The city will take another look at dropping the downtown speed limit to 25 mph.
The Community and Economic Development Committee held a broad-ranging discussion about pedestrian safety Tuesday. Alderwoman Melinda Humphrey said she had no specific “action plan” for the meeting and no motion emerged from it, but everyone present supported lowering the speed limit downtown and Alderwoman Rebecca Mattis said she would have the subject added to the agenda of the next Traffic Safety Committee meeting.
The meeting opened with a presentation about pedestrian safety by the Rutland Area Robotics Club. Students from the club performed a sketch in which two students are run over by a truck and then various crosswalk safety measures are explored. These ranged from light-up signs to placing reflective flags at crossings for pedestrians to carry.
The students brought data with them showing that since 2009, 151 pedestrians and cyclists in Rutland had been killed or injured in accidents, making the city the most dangerous for pedestrians in the state.
The meeting was triggered by Savannah Crowther, a newcomer to the city via the Stay to Stay program, approaching the Board of Aldermen on the issue. She said she was particularly concerned by people she saw darting across Main Street.
While no obvious solution to that presented itself during the meeting, some aldermen took note of how a map prepared by the robotics club showed a cluster of pedestrian accidents in the downtown area. This in turn led to a discussion of speed limits.
“There are a lot of studies that show differences when someone is hit by a car going 30 versus 25 versus 40,” city Planning Commission Chairwoman Susan Schreibman said.
Schreibman said a study about dropping the speed limit was done and turned over to the city.
“And then it just died,” she said.
Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said the speed limit used to be 25 mph downtown, but it was raised to 30 mph through a bureaucratic error.
“I’ve been begging to put downtown back down to 25 mph since the ’90s,” he said, though he warned that changing it would “attract a lot of public discussion.”