Fayetteville speed limit change goes into effect this weekend

20 mph sign mockup / University of Arkansas

A lower speed limit for residential streets goes into effect this weekend in Fayetteville.

City Council members last month approved a proposal to reduce the default limit from 25 mph to 20 mph to match the speed limit in business districts.

The new law, which begins Saturday, Nov. 6, means that the speed limit on any residential street without a speed limit sign is now 20 mph. All other streets with existing signs will remain at 25 mph, but will eventually be changed over time.

Organizations like the League of American Bicyclists and People for Bikes have advised lowering speed limits to no higher than 20 mph on minor residential streets, and 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 two fatal pedestrian crashes, and is awaiting an ordinance change from the city before installing any new signs.

There are 13 locations set for 20 mph signs along the borders of the university campus. The signs would show a 20 mph speed limit, but would also include a smaller notice that reads “unless otherwise posted.”

Council Member Sloan Scroggin, who represents Ward 3, said he’s seen a big increase in people using bicycles, scooters and other alternative transportation methods around town in the past few years, and he thinks it’s important to start implementing lower speeds for vehicles in places where that’s occurring.

One resident who spoke during public comment at the Oct. 5 meeting said studies have shown that 5 mph makes a big difference on the chances of survival for someone who’s struck by a vehicle and urged the council to approve the ordinance.

The council voted 7-0 to approve the change. Council Member Sonia Gutierrez Harvey was absent from the meeting.