By Tori Mason

(CBS4) – 2021 has been one of the deadliest years on Denver roads. The City could turn to reduced speed limits as part of a solution. Denver City Council is moving forward with a vote to reduce speed on residential and local roads from 25 mph to 20 mph.

AAA Colorado is in favor of reduced speeds for the safety of all commuters.

(credit: CBS)

“Lowering speed limits is probably the most critical place to start when it comes to protecting pedestrians. If you’re struck by a car going 32 miles per hour, compared to 23, we know that the risk of death for the pedestrian increases by 150 percent” says Skyler McKinley, spokesperson for AAA Colorado. “The slower cars go, the more survivable crashes are. You increase reaction time and it is much less likely that a motorist will strike a pedestrian at all.”

CBS4 caught up with Nick Meibeyer this week, a Denver resident who was severely injured after being hit by a car while riding a scooter in the fall.

Meibeyer is in much better condition, but he’s still recovering. He says safer streets are a community effort.

“What we need overall is just to help each other out. We need to be working together with pedestrians and cars on the streets to come to find goals and not hurt each other,” said Meibeyer.

Denver Councilman Paul Kashmann says lowering speeds on unlined neighborhood streets is but a small part of a much bigger process. He told CBS4 why he’s leading the proposal.

“While a few folks blow way past the posted speeds, the majority are a few miles below or above, which tells me that the existing posted speed is not comfortable for our residents,” wrote Kashmann. “We know that while changing posted speed limits does not change the habits of drivers who don’t care, we do know that it serves as a valuable reminder to those that do care, which I believe is the majority of Denver drivers.”

Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure supports the proposal. In a statement to CBS4, DOTI says:

“We hope reducing the speed limit on our local streets will address resident concerns. We also think the initiative could draw attention to the topic of speed in general – get people thinking about it and about driving the speed limit. While we know most fatal and serious injury crashes are happening on our multi-lane arterial streets as opposed to the local streets, we think this is a good first step. And we’re looking to follow up with another planning effort that would analyze speeds on our collectors and arterials.”

Denver’s default speed limit would change from 25 mph to 20 mph. DOTI estimates it’ll be addressing 2,700-3,500 25 mph speed limit signs currently placed on local streets.

According to DOTI, this change also applies to the city’s local streets, which aren’t posted for the most part. From a visual perspective, DOTI says drivers can think of local/residential streets as streets with no stripes or centerlines.

DOTI says it would want to complete the work as soon as possible if approved by the council to avoid confusion regarding speed limits. The city says the cost is currently estimated at $1.2 to 1.5 million.

Denver City Council will continue this discussion in the coming meetings.

Tori Mason