Councilors agreed to drop the speed limits on residential side streets from 30 to 25 miles per hour.
“One thing I hear most from my constituents in Brighton is 'Please do something about the speed of traffic in my residential neighborhood, and please slow down the people who are there,'“ Councilor Peter Padilla said. “So this is the effort to do that. This changes the default speed. Yes, there will always be people who break the laws but the likelihood of people breaking the law is not a reason to not put one in place.”
Councilors voted 7-1 on second reading to make the change, bringing Brighton into compliance with an international traffic safety movement.
Vision Zero is an international effort to reduce traffic deaths to zero that started in Sweden in the 1990s. It encourages local and state governments to prioritize road planning and policies that make road travel safer for all manners of traffic, from bicycles and pedestrians to cars.
At the Feb. 7 meeting Christopher Montoya Brighton's assistant director of public works, noted that only Brighton and Commerce City allow speed limits above 25 miles per hour in residential areas in the northern Front Range. Most, including Erie, Lafayette, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster, have the same 25-miles-per-hour limit. Boulder is the only neighboring community with a slower limit, 20 miles per hour, Montoya said.
“Obviously this is not an end all, do all solution but rest assured we will be working on other parts as well,” Councilor Ann Taddeo said.
But the change was not universally popular. Tom Kendall, of 283 Longspur Drive was concerned it would increase the speed limit on his street, which is currently posted with a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit.
Montoya said the change will not impact larger streets, such as Bromley Lane and Bridge Street. It won't increase speed limits on areas that are already posted as 25 miles per hour or less, Montoya said.
“If something is posted at 20, is designed for 20 it will be regulated as 20. We won't change those speeds,” Montoya said.
Still, Kendall said the change is not necessary. Better traffic signs are.
“We have streets in our neighborhood marked on one end, but we have all these feeder streets coming in and the speed is not marked there,” Kendall said. “They have no idea what the speed limit is there, and they think they can do whatever they want on the street.”
Montoya said the new change does include plans to upgrade speed limit signs around the city.
Councilor Matt Johnston, the sole no-vote on the matter, said he does not think the change will help make the city safer.
“I don't like to do things that just make us feel better and like we're doing something. It does not always work that way,” Johnston said.
Johnston said other things, like better speed limit signs and more police traffic patrols, would have a bigger impact.