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The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has voted to lower the speed limits on parkways to 20 mph.

The MPRB voted on this amendment to its code of ordinances on Wednesday, approving it with a vote of 5-3-1. 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 make such a move.

Changing the speed limit on parkways in Minneapolis to 20 mph brings 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. 

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."

“We know that on our roads, slower speeds save lives,” said President Jono Cowgill in a news release. “I’m proud of the Board for reducing parkway speed limits so they align with the city and with our goal of creating safe routes to our parks for everyone.”

Now that the measure has been approved, MPRB staff will work with the Minneapolis Department of Public Works to change 175-225 speed limit signs on Minneapolis parkways, meeting documents said. 

This transition could take some time, likely into 2022, an MPRB spokesperson told Bring Me The News, adding "drivers should follow the posted speed limit on whatever parkway they are on."

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 nine out of 10 pedestrians that are hit by a car traveling at 20 mph will survive. That drops to five in 10 pedestrian survivors if a car is going 30 mph, and just two in 10 if the car is traveling 40 mph.

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%. 

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