Next month, Nashville Mayor John Cooper will ask the traffic and parking commission, and then the Metro Council, to reduce the speed limit within neighborhoods from 30 to 25 mph. The cost of sign updates, community education, and related engineering improvements is 1.5 million. Is such a small change worth the cost?
From the Mayor’s Office: Mayor John Cooper today announced his commitment to improving neighborhood quality of life by instructing Metro Public Works to begin the rollout of lowering speed limits on neighborhood streets.
The Neighborhood Speed Limit Reduction initiative will impact neighborhood streets currently signed at 30 Miles Per Hour, reducing the posted speed limit to 25 Miles Per Hour. Metro Public Works, which released a Speed Reduction Feasibility Study earlier this year at Metro Council’s request, will work to implement the change over a one-year period, upon completion of a comprehensive signage inventory.
Street sign updates and community education on the speed limit change were previously funded in the 2018-2019 Capital Spending Plan with a $500,000 allocation, in addition to $1M for related engineering improvements from the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program.
Lower speed limits on Nashville’s local streets will improve safety and promote active living. Transportation research has shown that lowering speed limits to reflect an all-users approach to neighborhood streets results in decreased crash rates[i] – in particular, dramatic improvement in crash-survival rates for vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists – as vehicular speeds decrease[ii].
“With Nashville’s growth, more drivers have been prone to using our neighborhood streets as cut-through routes to avoid traffic on major corridors, impacting the quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor John Cooper. “Slowing vehicular traffic in residential neighborhoods is a commonsense next step for public safety and health, and it’s important to many Nashvillians I’ve spoken within recent years. I know Metro departments, the Metro Council, and our many community partners will help to make this effort a success.”
Mayor Cooper will ask Traffic and Parking Commissioners to consider the speed limit change at their November 18th meeting. He will then ask Metro Council to ensure the code reflects the change in speed on local neighborhood streets.
To help guide community engagement and public outreach around the rollout, the Mayor’s Office and Metro Public Works have assembled a team of stakeholders, Safe Speed Limit Outreach (SSLO), that will have its first meeting on Wednesday, November 6th. Members include:
- Burkley Allen, Metropolitan Council Member At-Large
- Sgt. Michelle Coker, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
- Saralee Woods, Commissioner, Traffic & Parking Commission
- Lindsey Ganson, Director of Advocacy & Communications, Walk Bike Nashville
- John Gore, Chair, Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
- Ruby Baker, President, Bordeaux Hills Residential Association
- Kara (KB) Holzer, Director of Marketing & Development, Conexión Américas
- Kathy Buggs, Director, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods
“Speeding through neighborhoods is consistently one of the top issues precinct commanders are asked to address,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “Speeding motorists put families at risk and interfere with the quality of life on residential streets and in subdivisions. This focused initiative to lower speed limits in many of Nashville’s residential areas will make our city safer, and we look forward to working with neighborhood groups and other Metro departments to help bring about this new change.”
Multiple Metro transportation plans have recommended strategies to create better neighborhoods for walking through safer speed policy, safety education programs, traffic-law enforcement, and additional traffic-calming measures. The speed limit change builds upon recent improvements to Metro’s Traffic Calming Program in order to make streets safe for everyone, including but not limited to motorists. Metro Public Works will design future engineering improvements under the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program to 25 MPH, and SSLO will spearhead a grassroots education strategy over the coming months. A full change-out for Metro’s street signs will take approximately one year to complete.
More information can be found in the Metro Public Works Speed Reduction Feasibility Study:
[i] National Transportation Safety Board, “Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles” – https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Pages/2017-DCA15SS002.aspx
[ii] “Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety –