Austin Still Needs Permission From Texas to Lower its Speed Limits

A decision by the city of Austin to support lower speed limits on some city streets will remain a symbolic gesture until the state allows local governments to establish their own speed limits.
December 25, 2016, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rhonda Roth

"The Austin City Council asked staffers Thursday to review city speed limits, with the goal of reducing the speed limits on some streets to make them safer," reports Katie Hall.

But there's a catch. The action by the City Council comes with the caveat that the city still needs support from the idea from the state. So, reports Hall, "the council [also] said the city would support efforts in the Texas Legislature to lower the default speed limit on Texas roads from 30 to 25 mph."

Such legislation has been a tough sell in the Texas Legislature, and a "state bill proposing the same change was not successful during the last legislative session."

Texas isn't the only state around the country holding up the Vision Zero and speed limit reduction actions of local governments. Angie Schmitt followed on the news from Austin by noting that Texas is far from the only state in the country that has the same power over local governments. Other states, however, like Massachusetts, New York, and Washington all made decisions recently to give local governments the power to lower their speed limits. City officials in Portland are still waiting for the same power from the state of Oregon.

Jay Blazek provides additional commentary on the Austin City Council's decision, arguing for the benefits of lower speed limits to cars and drivers, not just pedestrians and bikers. Blazek's arguments respond to some of the dissenting opinions regarding Austin's recent decision.

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Published on Thursday, December 15, 2016 in Austin American Statesman
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