Bellevue’s new Speed Management Plan is now available. This document, the first of its kind for the city, analyzes speed-related traffic safety concerns as the city works towards the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
Speed limits in Bellevue
By city ordinance, all streets in Bellevue are established as 25 mph unless otherwise posted. The city is authorized to determine speed limits on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation. In general, the Transportation Department evaluates and develops findings for the appropriate speed limit of a roadway consistent with national and local practices. The City Council serves as the legislative body approving, denying or modifying the department’s recommendations.
The exception to performing an engineering and traffic investigation is when 20 mph “Neighborhood Slow Zones” are created. Under Washington state law (RCW 46.61.415), the city does not need an engineering and traffic investigation if a procedure has been created to establish a 20 mph speed limit. The city has tested 20 mph zones and corridors for the East Bellevue Greenway in Surrey Downs and Eastgate near Tyee Middle School.
Speed Management in Bellevue
Speeding increases both the likelihood and the severity of crashes. In this way, a Safe System is not possible without safe speeds. Speed limits and speed management at the City of Bellevue aim to minimize death and injury, account for human error and recognize road safety as a shared responsibility.
- Local/residential streets: Speed limits on local or residential streets are 20 mph or 25 mph. The city's Residential Traffic Guidebook outlines various countermeasures to reduce vehicle speeds on local streets. Implementation of the countermeasures considers street context, operating speeds, traffic volumes and impact to emergency response vehicles.
- Arterial streets: Speed limits on arterial roadways range from 25-40 mph. The Speed Management Plan (SMP) focuses on arterial roadways with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or greater. Similar to the Residential Traffic Guidebook for local streets, the countermeasure toolkit in the SMP details engineering solutions that may be appropriate for a given arterial corridor based on land use, speed limit and impact to emergency response vehicles. The SMP also includes a Corridor Sorting Tool to help identify which corridors could benefit from speed management countermeasures.
Speed Limit setting standard operating procedures
One of the most important ways the Transportation Department manages speeds is through speed limit setting and evaluation.
Historical approaches to establishing speed limits focused primarily on motor vehicle operating speeds and speed uniformity among motorists. To align with current best practices, Transportation staff consider factors such as land use context, collision experience, pedestrian and bicyclist usage, and roadway and roadside characteristics for evaluating appropriate speed limits. The Speed Limit Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are used to evaluate current speed limits and identify if a change to the speed limit is recommended. Arterial roadways and local streets are evaluated differently. The evaluation of arterial roadways is further described in the Speed Limit Setting Methods and Step-by-Step Procedures.