The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) this week will vote on whether to reduce the speed limit on parkways to 20 mph, down from 30 mph.
Changing the speed limit on parkways in Minneapolis to 20 mph would bring the recreational routes in line with the 20 mph speed limit for local streets. Minneapolis and St. Paul reduced the speed limit on local city streets to 20 mph last year.
The MPRB will vote on an amendment to its code of ordinances on Wednesday. The vote comes after the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill, which Gov. Tim Walz signed into law, that included a provision to allow the MPRB to reduce the speed limit on parkways.
MPRB documents state: "As parkways are local streets intended as recreational routes, it is prudent that the current speed limit on parkways match the speed limit for local streets in Minneapolis."
If this gets approved, MPRB staff will work with the Minneapolis Department of Public Works to change 175-225 speed limit signs on Minneapolis parkways, meeting documents say.
MPRB Commissioner Chris Meyer on Sunday tweeted in support of the upcoming vote, but said it could be close as four commissioners have "indicated" they oppose the change, which was "really unexpected" as the board voted 8-0 to add lowering parkway speed limits to its legislative agenda.
Meyer said the commissioners that have indicated they are against lowering the speed limit oppose it because the change could lead to disproportionate enforcement on drivers of color.
Lowering speed limits on roads, especially parkways that often see more pedestrians and cyclists, can help save lives. Vision Zero Network (Minneapolis is a Vision Zero city) says 9 out of 10 pedestrians that are hit by a car traveling at 20 mph will survive, while 5 in 10 pedestrians hit by a car going 30 mph and 2 in 10 hit by a car traveling 40 mph will survive.
Other studies over the years have affirmed this. A 1999 U.S. Department of Transportation study found 5% of pedestrians would die when hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph or less, but fatality rates climb at faster speeds, with fatality rates reaching 40%, 80% and 100% when vehicles are traveling at speeds of 30 mph, 40 mph and 50 mph, respectively.
And a AAA study from 2011 found the average risk of death for a pedestrian that's hit by a car traveling 23 mph is 10%. That rises to 25% for vehicles traveling at 32 mph, 50% at 42 mph, 75% at 50 mph, and 90% at 58 mph. And the risk of death for pedestrians who are older is higher, with Pro Publica saying a 30-year-old hit by a car going 40 mph has a 36% chance of dying, but a 70-year-old's chance is almost double that at 70%.