Arlington County, Virginia, is making a move that county leaders say will better protect kids walking near schools: lowering the speed limit to 20 miles per hour.
The Department of Environmental Sciences will change the bright yellow school zone signs to say “Speed limit 20 mph.” Starting next month, the slower speed limits will apply at all times of day within 600 feet of schools and their designated crosswalks.
The Arlington County Board unanimously passed the ordinance during a Saturday session.
“This action is consistent with our Vision Zero initiatives, which is one of our most critical initiatives that is proving to provide great results so far,” said Vice Chair Christian Dorsey about the consent agenda item that passed without discussion.
Nearly a quarter of crashes in Arlington involve speeding, and each year there are typically more than 10 crashes involving speeding within 600 feet of a school, according to a memo prepared for the county board ahead of Saturday’s vote.
Last year, the board approved lower speed limits around 13 schools as a pilot test of new signs and pavement markings, according to the memo. Following that move, the county said a survey showed county residents said they felt safer walking, biking and driving because of the new school slow zones.
County planners estimated it would cost about $150,000 to implement 20 mph slow zones around schools countywide.
Arlington County saw fewer pedestrian related crashes in 2022 than the previous year, in line with its Vision Zero goal to eliminate pedestrian deaths by 2030.
The move to lower speed limits also follows the board’s decision last year to install movable speed cameras around school and work zones.
County data show that last year, 12 pedestrian were hit by cars — and two of them died.