Many Austin streets reduced to 25 mph speed limits; temporary bike lanes coming on Congress Avenue

Speed limits will be reduced to 25 mph on many of Austin's neighborhood streets. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Speed limits will be reduced to 25 mph on many of Austin's neighborhood streets. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Speed limits will be reduced to 25 mph on many of Austin's neighborhood streets. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Council made two transportation-related decisions June 11 that may affect the way Austin residents move around the city.

Council voted to reduce the speed limit on many neighborhood and downtown streets to 25 miles per hour following a recommendation from the Austin Transportation Department, which came from an ATD engineering study.

According to a map on ATD’s website, the speed limit reductions will have some wide-ranging effects in Central Austin neighborhoods, including reducing the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph in the majority of neighborhoods, such as Windsor Park, Mueller, the East Cesar Chavez area, West Campus and the downtown grid.

“Lowering speed limits saves lives, so this is a very important step for our city,” District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool said.

The changes are concentrated what ATD has described as Austin’s urban core, bounded by SH 71, US 183, and MoPac. However, ATD told the city’s mobility committee that it plans to complete an analysis of additional streets outside of this area by spring 2021 to bring additional speed limit change recommendations to council.

Congress Avenue getting temporary bike lanes

City Council also voted June 11 to add northbound and southbound protected temporary bike lanes on Congress Avenue from the Capitol to Riverside Drive.

According to the resolution passed by council, the temporary lanes will allow bicyclists to ride more safely in an area of downtown “where riding on the sidewalk does not allow for social distancing and creates possible conflicts for pedestrians.”

The effort continues Austin leaders’ push to encourage residents to get outside and keep a safe distance from each other. In May, the Austin Transportation Department closed parts of three neighborhood streets in South Austin and East Austin to thru traffic as part of its “Healthy Streets” initiative.

Previously, the city also closed certain portions of Riverside Drive and Pleasant Valley Road to give pedestrians and bicyclists more space as traffic decreased during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Congress Avenue resolution passed by council, City Manager Spencer Cronk has been directed to reach out to stakeholders, including downtown businesses, neighborhood groups and organizations, to seek feedback on the project by no later than June 30.


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