UPDATED: Fayetteville council considers lowering speed limit for residential streets

20 mph sign mockup / University of Arkansas

UPDATE 10/5/21: The City Council voted 7-0 to approve this proposal at the Oct. 5 council meeting.

The speed limit for residential streets could soon change in Fayetteville.

City Council members on Tuesday heard a proposal to reduce the default limit from 25 mph to 20 mph to match the speed limit in business districts.

If approved, any residential street without a speed limit sign would be lowered to 20 mph. All other streets with existing signs would remain at 25 mph, but could eventually be changed over time.

Recommendations from organizations like the League of American Bicyclists and People for Bikes all advise lowering speed limits to no higher than 20 mph on minor residential streets. The city’s own Mobility Plan suggests speed limits be set between 15-20 mph in residential areas.

Dane Eifling, the city’s mobility coordinator, said the university plans to lower speed limits on and around the main campus in response to a resolution from the Associated Student Government following two fatal pedestrian crashes involving university affiliates. In a staff memo, Eifling said the university is awaiting an ordinance change from the city before installing any new signs.

A map provided in the council’s agenda packet shows 13 proposed locations for 20 mph signs along the borders of the university campus. The signs, according to included mockups, would show a 20 mph speed limit, but would also include a smaller notice that reads “unless otherwise posted.”

In 2019, the city tested the idea of reduced speeds as part of a pilot program on sections of Prospect Street, Trenton Boulevard and Rebecca Street near Wilson Park. Eifling said 20 mph speed limits on those streets were eventually made permanent after the idea received support from the Active Transportation Advisory Committee.

The idea also comes with full support from the council’s Transportation Committee, which voted unanimously to recommend the proposal during its Aug. 31 meeting.

During Tuesday’s discussion, Council Member Teresa Turk asked how much it would cost to replace the signs in the city’s residential neighborhoods.

Chris Brown, the city’s public works director, said the total cost would be about $25,000, but the proposal doesn’t call for any immediate removal of existing signs.

Turk said she supports the idea, especially since she receives so many complaints about speeding drivers, but asked the other council members to wait a couple of weeks before making a decision to allow more time for the public to consider the proposal.

The discussion will continue on Oct. 5.