The City of Spokane has lowered the speed limit around 8 of the city’s 87 parks. The new speed limit is 20 mph, and the city leaders hope that the new posted limit will reduce the speed of drivers in those areas to increase safety for people using the parks.
The plan was hatched in 2018 when the Spokane Community Assembly, a coalition of neighborhood councils got the idea to attempt to make neighborhood parks safer. A 2013 state law gave the community groups more authority to set their own speed limits, and the council decided it was time to test out their new authority.
The problem was, Spokane police Sgt. John Griffin, supervisor for the Spokane Police Department’s traffic division said that the plan wouldn’t work. In an article from the Spokane Review, he was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to give the unrealistic expectation that just because we put up the sign, with our current staffing level, we’ll be able to be at all of them all the time.”
Help From Above
This same sentiment was echoed by members of the city council who worried that people would just ignore the signs without increased enforcement and the situation might be made worse. To justify more enforcement, studies from engineers and traffic experts would need to be commissioned to determine the project’s feasibility.
The city council didn’t have the money for a study, so it seemed the plan was dead. However, a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did a study of lowered speed limits in and around Boston and found that where the signs were posted, the average speed of the drivers in the areas went down, and this was without any additional enforcement.
It Was a Sign
For many of the neighborhood council members, this study was a sign that they were on the right track, and as of today, May 17, 2020, the signs for the first eight parks have been installed with five more scheduled to be finished soon. The parks that received the signs and will get them soon are:
- M. Cannon Park
- Audubon Park
- Chief Gary Park
- Comstock Park
- Hays Park
- Lincoln Park
- Mission Park
- Shadle Park
- Manito Park
- Cliff Drive between Ben Garnett Way and Tiger Trial
- High Drive between 21st and 29th Avenue
- High Drive Parkway between 29th and 33rd Avenue
- High Drive from 33rd to Manito Boulevard.
The hope is that local drivers will follow the lead of the Boston drivers across the nation and slow down in those neighborhoods where the signs are posted making it safer for everyone using the parks.