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Rethinking Speed Limits in the Twin Cities

Minneapolis and St. Paul are celebrating their newfound local control on matters of traffic safety be reconsidering the speed limits on city-owned streets and roads.
October 16, 2019, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Minnesota State Capitol

"The compromises forged at the end of last year’s [2019] legislative session included a new law that allows Minnesota cities to set their own speed limits on city streets," according to an article by Bill Lindeke, and St. Paul is one of the cities moving to take advantage of their newfound local control.

"In both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the next step is one where cities, on their streets anyway, can begin to set their own pace, and use street regulations to accomplish civic goals," explains Lindeke.

The article includes an explanation of the 85th percentile rule, describing the status quo for determining speed limits as perverse.

Especially in cities, the 85th percentile rule can work in perverse ways. At its extremes, the principle rewards drivers who speed by changing the rules. If enough people break the law, the rule simply changes the law to accommodate them. For decades, that’s been how speed limits were set throughout the state.

In St. Paul, according to Lindeke, engineers are considering a new process for thinking about which speed limits are appropriate for which streets in the absence of the 85th percentile's precedent.

As reported from Minneapolis earlier this year, St. Paul is not alone in seeking lower speed limits now that the state has relaxed its powers of preemption.

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Published on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 in MinnPost
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