Washington State House Democrats


House passes Ryu bill to help cities save lives and money

Unanimous vote makes Ryu the first freshman to pass a bill from the House in 2011

OLYMPIA—The House voted unanimously today for a proposal by state Rep. Cindy Ryu that would allow local governments to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial roads without conducting expensive traffic studies.

The 92-0 vote for House Bill 1217 made Ryu (D-Shoreline) the first freshman lawmaker to pass a bill from the House of Representatives in the 2011 session.

“I’m very pleased the House agreed to help local governments save lives and tax dollars,” said Ryu. “We know that lowering speed limits to 20 miles per hour can save lives. Giving cities and towns the option to reduce the speed limit without the need for special studies will also enable them to save scarce resources in these very difficult times.”

The Washington State Association of County Engineers estimates that it typically costs $1,000 to $5,000 to do the kind of traffic studies covered by Ryu’s bill, but the costs can be significantly higher in complex situations or when small jurisdictions need to hire consultants to do the work.

Ted Inkley, Board President of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, told the House Transportation Committee that Ryu’s measure could literally be a lifesaver in communities that take advantage of the option to reduce speed limits.

“Relatively small differences in speed can make a huge difference in survivability for pedestrians,” said Inkley.

Inkley said traffic studies in London show that lower speed limits are especially effective in reducing traffic fatalities among children.