Lake Forest Park moves to slow speed limits across city

Thursday, April 18, 2024

An illustration from the Lake Forest Park speed study illustrates
why lower speeds are safer for pedestrians 

By Oliver Moffat

For more than two years, the city of Lake Forest Park has been working on a study of traffic safety.

At the Thursday, April 11 Lake Forest Park regular meeting the city council voted to accept the recommendation to lower speed limits from that study.

Under the proposal, all local access streets across the city would be have their speed limits reduced from 25 to 20 mile per hour.

All arterial streets and collector roads would see their speed limits lowered to 25 miles per hour from 30.

The study considered a number of options that were rejected by the city council including the “85th percentile” method which sets speeds based on how fast cars are going regardless of safety concerns. This method optimizes speed limits for the benefit of car drivers while ignoring safety for walkers and bikers and has been criticized as outdated.

A map for the Lake Forest Park speed study shows which streets
would have their speeds reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph

The option chosen by the city council treats all roadways in a city uniformly and simply sets a default speed limit across the city. This option is simpler and easier to communicate to drivers.

Under Washington State law (RCW 46.61.415) cities are allowed to set speed limits as low as 20 mph on their roads without costly traffic engineering studies.

Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Bainbridge Island have all lowered speed limits to 20 mph on local streets. The proposed changes would make Lake Forest Park’s speeds consistent with Seattle’s.

Lake Forest Park does not have jurisdiction over Ballinger Way (State Route 104) and Bothell Way (State Route 522) because they are state routes controlled by WSDOT.

Council members expressed impatience with WSDOT for not moving to reduce speed limits on those roads and discussed what options the city has to get the state agency to move faster.


Remus April 18, 2024 at 8:40 AM  

Seems as if drivers, and studies show this, set their own speed limits as they feel the traffic should flow. How many drivers drive the speed limit on 15th by Jackson Golf Course? I can see LFP setting speed limits at 10 mpg because the new mayor would like to increase revenue with fine. Part of his campaign for mayor! And with these changes in speed limits, has it reduced deaths? Seattle sits at about 20 a year regardless of the speed limit.

Anonymous,  April 18, 2024 at 9:56 AM  

What a waste of time. Our region is quickly becoming Massachusetts with its web of 20 mph speed limits that are roundly ignored for being too slow.
(I'm sure that ensnaring more previously law-abiding citizens in the strained criminal justice system will help it perform, too.)

If we actually cared about road user safety, we'd raise the bar on driver skill. Too many licensed drivers have no idea how to safely operate their vehicles. We can't be bothered to hold people to account for actual competency. We'd also teach pedestrians to look both ways and never assume a car is going to stop without eye contact. Defensive driving and defensive walking go hand in hand.

Our elected leaders aren't going to be happy until everyone is puttering along at 20 everywhere we go. It's an inefficient use of time, fuel, and leads to a spiral of driver inattention through boredom.

Anonymous,  April 18, 2024 at 8:05 PM  

How do we request speed reductions for our streets?

Anonymous,  April 19, 2024 at 7:11 AM  

The city can claim that it's about safety, but it isn't. The city's own figures and studies confirm that while LFP is a drive through city, the rate of serious injury collisions or collisions involving death are lower than other areas. This IS about revenue in a city that had low property taxes (despite being so liberal) and a small business tax base and is hungry for more money from other people who are not residents. If safety was a legitimate concern, the city would fix Perkins, demand the state fix Ballinger, stop building unnecessary traffic circles and get a legitimate traffic solution for 178th and Ballinger. And let's be honest: an understaffed police department can't enforce even the existing traffic issues.

Anonymous,  April 20, 2024 at 12:54 AM  

Shoreline lowered their speed limits and look how effective it’s been:

At least LFP can raise even more revenue this way, so there’s that. Speed trap town.

Anonymous,  April 20, 2024 at 1:20 AM  

They are going to rename it Lake Forest Speedtrap

Anonymous,  April 23, 2024 at 2:46 PM  

What a serious waste of time. As a resident of Lake Forest Park our speed limits are already slow enough. Please build additional side walks, that’s the solution.

Anonymous,  April 23, 2024 at 2:56 PM  

Wow what a terrible idea.

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