Motorists Face New 20 MPH Speed Limit in Minneapolis and St. Paul

It’s common knowledge that Minneapolis and St. Paul rank among the most hostile cities to cars and fossil-fueled vehicles anywhere in the country. For years the number of public parking places and traffic lanes have continued to plummet as Twin Cities urban planners prioritize bike lanes, transit and pedestrian walkways.

So the latest restriction imposed on drivers in both cities–a 20 mph speed limit on city streets–has not been well received by some motorists already traumatized by rush-hour like conditions much of the time in busy areas.

The official reason behind the change is to improve public safety and save pedestrian lives. But many of the comments on the Bring Me the News Facebook page run from cynical to scathing.

Every road design, bike lane, round about etc. they have done in the last 20 years has been designed to discourage driving and keep drivers from getting anywhere in the city in a timely manner.–Danny Willis

So you can B urn L oot and M urder but it’s a crisis if you drive over 20Mph? Yeah…good one. Both failed cities!–Calvin Cook

Nice thought but unlikely to slow speeders. And just one more thing to discourage people with jobs and who need cars to get there from living in Mpls.–Mark Medved

Until now, the standard speed limit on municipal streets was 30 mph statewide. But last year the legislature gave the green light to allowing cities to set their own speed restrictions on city-owned roads. The Pioneer Press reports that the first of hundreds of the 20 mph signs already dot many streets in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The first 20 mph “gateway” sign was recently posted on the St. Paul-Minneapolis border of Franklin and Emerald avenues, and about 150 will follow between now and the end of the year.

The speed limit changes were set in motion by both city councils last year, based on findings that, in short, speed kills. A person hit by a car traveling at 35 mph, for instance, is three times as likely to die as someone hit at 25 mph. Injuries at slower speeds tend to be far less serious than those at faster ones.

One of the most obvious questions raised by the lower limits is how seriously the new speed limits will be enforced given the spike in violent crime and shortage of police officers on the ground in both cities.

St. Paul officers will be educating drivers about the new speed limit and enforcing it, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman.

In the beginning, for “people driving what they thought was the speed limit,” police will be pulling them over to tell them it’s been lowered, Ernster said.

“Lower speeds mean drivers have more time to react and we know that it reduces injuries, which makes our roads safer for all of us,” he said.

Motorists in both downtowns will get a slight break with a 25 mph speed limit moving forward. But anyone needing to get somewhere in a hurry would be advised to stick to county and state roads, where speed limits remain unchanged.