Albuquerque city councilor calling for 20 mph speed limit downtown

An Albuquerque city councilor wants to slow drivers down throughout downtown.

He wants to lower the speed limit, add stop signs and turn a couple of one-way streets into two-ways.

“Twenty miles-per-hour seems fair,” says Dori Martin. 

That’s exactly what City Councilor Issac Benton is proposing for most of downtown. Right now, the speed limit varies from 25 to 30.

“A pedestrian who is hit by a car going 20 miles-per-hour has a 90 percent chance of survival…same pedestrian, if it’s hit by a car going 30 miles-per-hour, has a 50 percent chance of survival,” says Albuquerque City Councilor Issac Benton. 

The ‘downtown safety zone’ would stretch from Lomas to Coal, and Eighth Street to the tracks. 

“This really is effectively a 20 mile-per-hour zone. Most people naturally go that speed anyway and based on standard traffic practices 20 would be a more appropriate speed for downtown,” Benton says. 

Not all drivers are convinced a new speed limit will make a difference.

“Unless it’s enforced, unless people get written up right away and fined, I don’t see much hope,” Glenn Habert says. 

In addition to changing the speed limit, Benton has other ideas to slow people down, including more stop signs and turning Marquette and Tijeras into two-way streets.

“It’s really just a matter of changing some striping and some signage more than anything. It’s not a big project,” Benton says. 

The ‘downtown safe zone’ also calls for more on-street parking and changes to traffic signal timing. This resolution will be introduced to the council during their meeting Wednesday night.

Last year, the city put up orange barrels on Lead Avenue downtown, cutting it down to one inbound lane to see if that would slow drivers down.

That two-week study was abandoned after three days of gridlock during the morning commute. The plan doesn’t say if Lead or Coal could be losing a lane.

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