COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Within a week’s time the Columbus City Council swiftly introduced, proposed, and passed legislation on reducing the speed limit throughout the Downtown area.
Columbus City Councilmember and Chair of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, who hosted the first public hearing last Tuesday on the ordinance, said reducing speed limits is among the top concerns heard from residents in Columbus communities.
With a vote of 7-0, the city council approved a motion Monday night to change the speed limit in the Downtown district with a limit of 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The initiative is part of a strategy by Vision Zero Columbus to reduce serious and fatal crashes on city streets, to promote safe travel for those walking, biking or in a motor vehicle, and to support safety as the top priority of the transportation system.
The Downtown District meets the Ohio Revised Code definition of a business district and gives the city jurisdiction to lower the speed limit on streets within it. A map of the Downtown Speed Reduction Boundary Map can be found here.
“When a vulnerable road user is in a crash, a difference of 10 miles per hour in the speed limit may also be the difference between life and death,” said Barroso de Padilla at Monday’s meeting. “We have a unique opportunity where written into the Ohio code we actually can influence the Downtown area.”
Included in Barroso de Padilla’s presentation were statistics on the increase in traffic-related fatalities on Columbus city streets and how reducing speed by as much as 10 miles per hour can make a life-saving difference if struck by a vehicle. Since 2015, the number of people killed in crashes in Columbus, not including highways, has doubled from 37 to 73 in 2021. Last year there were 72 people killed in traffic crashes.
“I want to note that I’ve said crashes, not accidents, because these are preventable incidences,” Barroso de Padilla said. “If people use the rules of the road, if they use the tools that are on the roadways, we know that we can prevent crashes from happening.”
The legislation goes to the state and the Ohio Department of Transportation for approval. If passed, the installation of 25-mile-per-hour speed limit signs in the Downtown area could begin as early as the end of February.
“Slower vehicle speeds on our Downtown streets will save lives,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther in a statement released by the Department of Public Service. “This bold action advances our Vision Zero goal to eliminate all fatal and serious injury crashes on Columbus streets.”
Upon approval, traffic signals will then be retimed to support traffic flow at the reduced speed limit and the Leading Pedestrian Interval safety feature will be installed at seven Downtown signalized intersections to increase the visibility of pedestrians crossing the street.
Those intersections include:
- High St. at Rich St.
- Broad St. at Cleveland Ave.
- Mound St. at 3rd St.
- 4th St. at Gay St.
- Front St. at Mound St.
- Grant St. at Town St.
- High St. at Mound St.
Additional intersections will be considered as the first locations are monitored.