At last night’s City Council vote to lower the default speed limit to 25 MPH (from 30), Councilor Marc Laredo asked to postpone the vote for a “substantive discussion.” Let’s start the discussion …

What would change if the Council adopted the 25 MPH speed limit? To understand, we need to understand that there is a statutory speed limit and then regulatory limits. Currently, the statutory limit in Newton is 30 MPH. That means that the speed limit on every road in Newton that doesn’t have a posted limit is 30 MPH. If there is a posted limit on a road, the posted limit governs. Each instance of a posted limit is a regulatory limit. 

Recent changes to Massachusetts General Laws allows municipalities to lower the statutory limit to 25 MPH on city-owned streets. (Route 9, the Pike, and Needham Street are state roads and therefore not covered.) That’s what the City Council is considering. If the Council passes the change, the immediate effect would be to lower the speed limit on roads where there is no posted limit. There would be no change on streets with posted limits.

Some questions for future posts:

  • Will lowering the speed limit lower speeds?
  • Do we want to lower speeds?
  • Why would we want to lower speeds?
  • What happens on streets with currently posted 25 MPH limit?
  • What happens on streets with currently posted 30 MPH limit?
  • What happens on streets without posted limits that should remain 30 MPH?