Goldenites might need to drive a little slower around their neighborhoods, as city officials recommend lowering speed limits in residential areas to 20 mph.
The idea, called 20 is Plenty, has been embraced by other local cities. By lowering neighborhood speed limits, it creates a safer environment for motorists, pedestrians and other road users, according to city officials.
Currently, speed limits in neighborhoods are 25 mph unless otherwise posted. An ordinance will be required to change the speed limits, and Golden will host two meetings — both with public comment opportunities. Staff hopes the ordinance will be approved and implemented by the spring of 2023.
During a Sept. 20 City Council work session, staff members described how the police department, city engineer, and Mobility and Transportation Advisory Board all support 20 is Plenty for Golden.
After discussion, the city council unanimously supported moving forward with 20 is Plenty and drafting an ordinance to bring back for dicussion and approval.
Police Chief Joe Harvey and Emily Gedeon, city spokesperson, said implementing the new ordinance could cost around $3,000 to replace current speed limit signs and post 30-50 additional ones.
On Aug. 8, Golden implemented a pilot program on Ford Street north of Seventh Street, including posting an electronic message board. The pilot program is still ongoing, with no end-date scheduled.
Harvey and Gedeon said the city received several emails from community members about the pilot program, and their sentiments ranged from generally supportive to slightly concerned and wanting more information.
Harvey believes the public safety benefits of 20 is Plenty outweighes any counterpoints the community might have. Along with lowering speed limits, Harvey said the city should implement other traffic-calming measures, such as speed humps on some city streets.
“Injuries sustained from a car moving faster than 20 mph is significant,” Harvey said. “ … We want to eliminate injury accidents and mitigate as many non-injury accidents as we can.”
Councilor Don Cameron wondered whether it would be possible for some streets to be 20 mph going uphill and 25 mph going downhill so motorists won't have to ride their brakes as much. However, he pointed out that it is easier for motorists to stop at 20 mph than at higher speeds.
“I used to teach in physics: ‘What’s it mean when a ball goes across the road? … There’s a kid going after it,’” he said.
Mayor Laura Weinberg and her colleagues wondered about the definition of residential-area streets, describing how there are streets with a mix of commercial and residential use.
Harvey said staff will study these areas when drafting the ordinance language, stating, “There can be some anomalies that we’ll take careful consideration of.”
Gedeon clarified later that the city will develop a map of all the streets and street segments where the speed limit would be lowered, if the ordinance is approved. She anticipated this will be available when the ordinance is presented to City Council.
Harvey and Gedeon also outlined a plan to use electronic message boards, social media, the Guiding Golden website, and other outlets to ensure residents know about a change in speed limits.