These neighborhoods will see reduced speed limits of 20 mph on residential roads next month

MADISON, Wis. — In a unanimous vote, Madison’s Transportation Commission selected the Tenney-Lapham and Hammersley-Theresa neighborhoods to test out a pilot program that will reduce residential speed limits to 20 mph.

Sixteen-year Tenney-Lapham resident Kirsten Pires said as long as she’s lived along East Gorham, almost no one drives the posted 25 mph speed limit.

“When police do a traffic enforcement, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel,” Pires said. “It’s just one after another that cars are stopped for speeding.”

The initiative is part of a bigger goal the City has to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.

Although Pires would like to see more people drive at the posted speed limit, she’s skeptical if reducing the speed by 5 mph is the answer.

“I don’t understand how people are going to go 20 if they won’t go 25 in the first place,” she said.

The decision on the Twenty is Plenty initiative got mixed reviews at the Transportation Commission meeting.

“People in the community are fed up with speeders but I don’t think it’s the people going five over,” one speaker said. “I think it’s the blatant racing and people going 20 plus over the limit. I don’t see why we need to lower the speed limit when that seems to be the problem.”

Another public commenter said, “I’m very confident it will help a little. I think that’s what we should all be expecting is a couple miles an hour reduction which is better than not.”

Pires said she understands why her neighborhood was chosen to see if the reduced speed limits will help.

“There are a lot of accidents, a lot of near misses.” she said. “I’ve seen a dog get hit. I’ve seen cats get hit.”

The Transportation Commission revealed crash statistics at its meeting to supplement why it unanimously chose the two neighborhoods to test out the pilot program on. The Tenney-Lapham neighborhood saw 98 crashes over the last 5 years, and the Hammersley-Theresa neighborhoods saw 47.

Alder Patrick Heck represents the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and supports the idea of reduced speed limits, but said he would like to see additional changes like bump outs and narrowed streets.

He added that some people want to take the speed limit idea a step further.

“The Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association has also expressed interest in putting up additional signage of their own to encourage people to drive 20 mph and to slow down,” Heck said.

The city will monitor how well this new system works. Although Pires isn’t positive it will work, she said she’s willing to try it out and wait to see what happens.

“I hope it works and I’m behind anything that works,” Pires said.

The City will switch out the speed limit signs in June.