Transportation committee supports lower CH speed limits

To the Editor:

As members of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), we support the reduction of speed limits on residential portions of certain streets as proposed by Mayor Seren, recommended by city council’s Public Safety and Health Committee (chaired by Council Member Larson), and passed by council.

This action by the mayor and council is consistent with the city’s Complete and Green Streets Policy, approved by council in 2018, and Council Resolution 96-2021, adopting and supporting the ideals, principles, and concepts of Vision Zero for the city.

The city’s lowering of speed limits is also consistent with policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It defines Complete Streets as “streets that are safe, and feel safe, for all users” (emphasis added), and makes Complete Streets the default approach for funding and implementing street improvements.

Our city, with its acclaimed Complete and Green Streets Policy, may be well positioned to receive financial and other assistance in designing and constructing Complete Streets infrastructure improvements.

The city has been criticized in social media and elsewhere for not relying on a traffic engineering study in setting speed limits. However, traffic studies rely on drivers’ assessments of safe speed and do not consider the safety assessments of vulnerable users of streets, such as pedestrians (including children, the elderly and disabled, users of [public] transit) and bicyclists.

In 2018, the city’s law department concluded that Ohio law authorized the city to declare residential streets not to be through highways, and to [reduce] the applicable speed limit from 35 to 25 mph. Shortly thereafter, a group of Euclid Heights Boulevard-area residents expressed concerns to TAC that, at 35 mph, it was not safe for them or their children to walk or ride bicycles to school or other nearby destinations.

TAC then requested that council declare the residential portions of Euclid Heights Boulevard not to be a through street. At that time, the city was operating under a city manager/council form of government. TAC received no response from the city manager nor council.

We are encouraged by our new elected mayor/council form of government taking meaningful action in furtherance of pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Five members of the CH TAC

Cindie Carroll-Pankhurst
Howard Maier
Charlie Mosbrook
Kathy Petrey
Catalina Wagers

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:58 AM, 01.31.2023