The city of Edina will move ahead in its pursuit to lower speed limits in the city.

City staff presented its recommendation to lower local speed limits during a Feb. 17 Edina City Council meeting. The council unanimously approved the move, which will lower speeds from generally 30 mph to 25 mph. Staff cites improved safety and equity in mobility as the reasons for the decrease.

“(Lower speeds) promote safety by reducing the likelihood and severity of motor vehicle crashes and they promote equity by prioritizing vulnerable roadway users,” Transportation Planner Andrew Scipioni said at the meeting.

The city has supported lower speeds since 2006 and had the opportunity to act on that desire after the state Legislature gave Minnesota cities the authority to set limits on local roads, Scipioni said.

The traditional way to set speed limits is to base it on the speed at which 85% of vehicles are observed to travel on a given type of roadway, according to MnDOT. “This really only really considers the need of motorists and not pedestrians and cyclists,” Scipioni said.

An original recommendation was provided to the City Council in July 2020, advocating for a “tiered approach,” which had most streets designated for 20 mph, collector roads at 25 mph, and roads with the highest traffic at 30 mph, Scipioni said. At the time, councilmembers were concerned that the wide range of speed limits would confuse motorists.

The current recommendation now sets most streets at 25 mph. Four-lane streets or streets with a lot of non-local traffic are set at 30 mph. School zones will be 15 mph or 20 mph, according to the presentation to the City Council.

In October, the city asked the public to provide input on lowering the speed limit. One hundred and thirty-eight visitors left feedback, though the site received nearly 1,000 visits.

Of those who filled out the feedback form, 51.9% were supportive of the recommendation. About 24% opposed the recommendation, expressing concerns with costs and a decrease in mobility, and 13.7% were in favor of a 20 mph speed limit.

Those who were supportive of a lower speed limit cited current concerns with safety and a lack of sidewalks.

People were also able to place pins on certain roadways and choose their desired speed limit for it, Scipioni said. On Municipal State Aid streets, also known as collector streets, participants indicated a general desire for higher speed limits, while on local streets, participants expressed a wish for lower limits, according to the presentation.

In addition to the safety and equity aspects of the proposal, Scipioni said staff made the recommendation because it sets consistent expectations. The move also aligns with the city’s desire for improved pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, as laid out in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the Living Streets Plan, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, Scipioni said.

City Councilmember Kevin Staunton said after the presentation that “taking 5 five miles an hour off makes a big difference to a pedestrian or a cyclist or a little kid in the neighborhood and it doesn’t really make that much difference to the people trying to get from here to there.”

With approval of the recommendation, the City Council also authorized the development of an implementation plan, which will return for council approval later this year. Components of the implementation plan include a strategy for signage and traffic signals, enforcement and communication about the new speed limits.

– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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