Cambridge will lower the speed limit on most city-owned streets to 20 mph

The change will start in mid-November.

A bicyclist rides on a bike lane through Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A bicyclist rides in a bike lane through Harvard Square in Cambridge. –Charles Krupa / AP

Drivers on Cambridge streets should prepare to slow down next month. 

The speed limit will be reduced to 20 mph on most of Cambridge’s city-owned streets starting in mid-November, the city announced Monday. 

“We’ve heard concerns about speeding from people throughout the Cambridge community,” Joseph Barr, director of the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department, said in a statement. “Reducing the speed limit is an important step towards addressing those concerns. This change will also inform the way that we design our streets and help support our ongoing traffic calming efforts.”

The measure is part of the city’s Vision Zero strategy to eliminate traffic crash fatalities and injuries, and it builds on the city’s work defaulting the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph in 2016 and decreasing limits in Cambridge’s five squares in 2018.

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“Data shows that reducing speeds has a big impact on the outcome of crashes,” the city said in a statement. “A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that people walking are almost half as likely to be killed or seriously injured if struck by a car traveling 25 mph as compared to a car traveling 30 mph.” 

To implement the speed change, officials estimated 660 “Safety Zone” signs will be installed across the city, starting in East Cambridge and moving west across the municipality. The majority of the work will be completed by a contractor, managed by city staff, starting in mid-November and will last for about three months.

The change will largely apply to the city’s smaller, local-access streets, while larger, arterial roads will still have a speed limit of 25 mph. 

The city has created a map, where the changes to the signage can be tracked as work goes forward. 

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