BIG WIN- Boulder’s Residential Speed Limits lowered to 20 mph- Read the story of the success

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Community Cycles began advocating for “Vision Zero” – a world-wide initiative whose goal is zero traffic fatalities – during the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) update of 2014. Since then, we’ve had two more TMP updates. The 2016 TMP update incorporated “Towards Vision Zero”. Community Cycles fought back on that, saying we did not need the “towards” because we actually wanted to get there. Council made city Transportation Division staff drop the “towards” in 2017.

During the most recent TMP update in 2019, we fought hard to get many goals and changes included that, if enacted, would increase safety for all road users, especially people walking and biking. The idea of lowering residential speed limits to 20 mph was fought by city staff. We took it to Council and the Council made staff compromise and include “considering lowering speed limits to 20 mph on residentials streets.” That was in September. During the November 2019 City Council election, Community Cycles worked hard and made 20 mph speed limits on residential streets a campaign issue and got every candidate running to pledge support and agree to making this law in 2020.

Fulfilling the promise to get this done in 2020, Council put “20 is plenty”, as the campaign is called, on its agenda for April. The Community Cycles team of our Executive Director, Advocacy Coordinator and a devoted core of amazing volunteers who have been working together on these issues since 2014, went to work laying the foundation of a campaign that would pass the ordinance change required. We wrote op-eds, letters to the editor, social media posts and continued to inform the 12,000 people on our mailing list. We purchased “20 is plenty” yard signs and distributed them by bike throughout the community. When demand was high and we ran out, we purchased more.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Division was still not sold on the idea. They proposed a big study and maybe a tepid trial program. Then the pandemic happened, making the Transportation Division’s proposal even more impractical. In the meantime, the city’s volunteer Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) strongly supported 20 is plenty and Community Cycles lobbied City Council members and rallied community support. In April, Council in light of the difficulties the pandemic posed, the wide public support for this measure, and the fact that we’ve been talking about this for six years, agreed to move straight to an ordinance change. It came before Council two more times, with a public hearing and final vote on May 19th. On May 19th, 20 mph speed limits on residential streets was passed unanimously by the City Council.

This is the Cliff Notes version. There was lots of research, letters, phones calls, meetings, set backs, and just plain hours and hours of hard work that got us here. This win would not have been possible without all the people who support Community Cycles financially so we could do our work, our amazing and tireless volunteers on the Community Cycles Advocacy Committee, the people who wrote letters to Council, TAB and the Daily Camera, the people who put yards signs on their lawns, the partners who helped us get the word out – Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, People for Bikes, Bicycle Colorado, Cyclists 4 Community – TAB members, Community Cycles staff and Board and others I am sure I forgot. And mostly the City Council who showed the leadership in making this happen. Thank you! We all will have safer streets because we all worked together.

But 20 is plenty is not the end of this story, it is the beginning. There is still much we can do to make our streets safer and less dominated by all the ills that accommodating motor vehicles at all costs brings. We have seen during the pandemic how pleasant it is not to be slaves to the almighty single occupancy vehicle – our air is cleaner, we can hear the birds again and take pleasure in a simple walk around the neighborhood. Community Cycles advocacy mission remains- working to build a transportations system that is equitable and prioritizes the safety of all users. Lower speed limits are a first step, but we have a lot of work to do to get to a system where everyone feels comfortable taking a bike or going on a walk for utility or recreation. We hope you will support Community Cycles in these efforts. The best way to do that is to become a member.

Also we are still giving out 20 is plenty yard signs to educate people on the new speed limit. Get yours here.