• City of Tacoma QA
  • City of Tacoma Data




20 is Plenty

Slower Speed. Safer Streets. New Limits in 2023.

20 MPH Speed Limit Yard Sign

This past summer, City Council passed Ordinance No. 28825, which lowers the default speed limit on residential streets from 25 miles per hour (MPH) to 20 MPH. This ordinance also lowers the speed limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH on arterial streets in four Neighborhood Business Districts, including 6th Avenue, Lincoln, McKinley Hill, and Old Town. Proctor and Sound Tacoma are already 25 MPH.

The new speed limits go into effect January 1, 2023. With this, Tacoma joins numerous cities in the United States and around the world that have chosen to reevaluate and lower local speed limits in an effort to eliminate serious traffic crashes, encourage active transportation use, support sustainability, and make their communities safer.

 

SPEED LIMIT REDUCTION FACTSHEET - JULY 2022

 

Safe Speeds is a Priority of Vision Zero 

In February 2020, the Tacoma City Council adopted Resolution No. 40559 committing to Vision Zero and the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2035. Contained within Resolution No. 40559 was direction to complete a study on the “State of Speed and Safety in Tacoma” and include consideration of a default speed limit of 25 MPH on arterials and 20 MPH on residential streets.

A key component of the Safe Systems approach under Vision Zero is Safe Speeds. In locations where pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers are regularly mixing, a maximum speed limit of 20 MPH is ideal. The link between speed and injury severity in crashes is consistent, direct and especially critical for more vulnerable roadway users. Lower speeds improve visibility, provide additional time for drivers to stop, and reduce the potential for fatal or severe injuries by lowering impact forces. People who are walking are twice as likely to live after being hit by a car at 25 MPH than at 30 MPH.

 

Graphic showing safe systems including safe speeds, safe cars, safe people, and safe streets

Image credit: Vision Zero Network 

 

Safe Routes to School

A lower residential speed limit will support Tacoma’s Safe Routes to School program by providing a safer environment for students to walk and roll to school. Speed limits are already 20 MPH on streets immediately adjacent to schools or at specific school crossings. The residential speed limit change will make it so all neighborhood walking routes to school have a speed limit of 20 MPH.


Next Steps 

The Vision Zero crash safety analysis found the majority of fatalities and serious injury crashes are occurring on arterial streets, making these streets a main focus for future Vision Zero efforts. To lower speeds on most arterial streets, more is needed to change driver behavior than simply lowering the speed limit and changing signs. Infrastructure changes are often need to lower driver speeds and to make the street safe for all users.