The District lowered its speed limit Monday as city officials plan to share street space with restaurants and pedestrians to facilitate social distancing.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans Friday to reduce the city’s default speed limit from 25 to 20 miles per hour on “local roads” starting Monday to make streets safer for residents as they socially distance from other pedestrians. Bowser said officials also plan to expand restaurants’ outdoor seating called “Streateries” into parking and traffic lanes that would be blocked off from oncoming traffic to allow customers to eat under social distancing guidelines.
Bowser added that plans include new “Slow Streets” that will constrain 20 miles of roads throughout each of the District’s eight wards to a 15 miles per hour speed limit. “Slow Streets” limit access to local traffic traveling less than two blocks to allow pedestrians to practice “neighborhood-based safe social distancing while running, walking or cycling,” according to the release.
“We are reimagining the use of public space to support restaurants, retail and recreation,” she said in a press release. “With Streateries, Slow Streets and a lower speed limit, we can support residents and businesses by sharing roads and sidewalks and making room for the social distancing that is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Bowser said businesses can apply for additional outdoor seating in sidewalks, alleys and street space on the city’s Phase One reopening website.
The city’s new initiatives are part of Bowser’s Vision Zero Plan, according to the release, which Bowser unveiled in 2015 to eliminate all pedestrian deaths by 2024.