Decatur Speed Limits: Public Input Requested

accident map

From Decatur PD’s Sgt. Jennifer Ross…

City of Decatur wants your opinion on the current speed limits. At the request of a number of residents, city staff has conducted a review of speed limits and several other traffic related issues within the jurisdiction. Based on this research and adopted policies, a proposal has been drafted to improve consistency and help make Decatur a safe, walkable and bike-friendly community for all ages. You can read more about the project online at

Here’s how you can learn more about this project:

WHEN: August 14th, 6:00pm-7:30pm

WHERE: Decatur City Hall

Accident map courtesy of the city’s Speed Limits Study

55 thoughts on “Decatur Speed Limits: Public Input Requested”

    1. I’ll gladly accept a lower speed limit if we can eliminate the frackin’ speed humps.

      1. I am so with you, SHB. I dress up nice for work, I drive slow, yet my coffee is sloshed into my lap too many mornings.

      2. I live on a street that has em, I dont like them, but I can say for sure that they are much more of a deterrent than a speed limit sign…

        1. Amen to that Brad. I have one in front of my house. I have going over it, but it sure slows the traffic down.

      1. Would speed limit signs still conform to industry norms if they read “20 is plenty!”?

        “25 is about right” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    2. Make sure to make your thoughts known to the city, as the current proposal does not reduce speeds to 20 anywhere in the city. That’s been a goal of the city, but it is not reflected in the proposal.

  1. In my opinion, the speed linits are fine. Lowering the speed linits will have no effect on speeders but will snarl traffic even more.
    My experience is that whenever an officer is watching traffic on Church Street, traffic slows down. Use our police force to bust the speeders on inter-city streets. Consider hiring a private firm to enforce traffic laws on residential streets (our police as backup). This firm keeps a certain percentage of fines. No cost to the taxpayers and safer streets.

    1. A police cruiser sitting on a problem street does wonders for slowing traffic, but that takes police away from other activities. I think for radar enforcement, police can’t ticket unless it’s 10mph over the limit, correct? But 45 in a 35 is significantly faster, especially if those cars are buzzing by close to pedestrians, bikes, and pets.

      I would like to see more improvements to the physical environment that affects how drivers act. Bulb-outs, roundabouts, and the hated traffic calming measures in areas with higher cyclist or pedestrian activities would slow down traffic without having to change the speed limit.

      1. Also, once the police officer leaves, the speeds ramp right back up. I stood in my front yard with my iPhone camera aimed at the street and all cars immediately started slowing down but traffic sped back up again when I stopped.

  2. How can East Ponce get some of that sweet, sweet traffic calming that West Ponce is getting?

    I agree with Mr. B that speed limits are fine and we need to add traffic calming and enforcement rather than make it worse for everyone by slowing down the people who already comply with the speed limits.

  3. It’s a great proposal. It would really help our city. I’ve spoken to traffic officers about speeding, and they say they can’t really issue citations for speeds of less than 5 mph over the limit, because of the margin of error in detection equipment. So that makes enforcement difficult, and it raises the effective speed limits on our streets. I’m really pleased with the proposal and hope it can be adopted. It would make our city even safer and more pleasant. Bravo CoD!

  4. I would be for reducing speed limits if they also eliminate every traffic light and replace it with either a stop sign or roundabouts. A boy can dream…

    1. I said the same thing when they were designing Spaghetti Junction. “A large roundabout in the sky! It’ll like Columbus Circle on steroids and stilts!,” said I.

      They wouldn’t listen and now look what’s there…

  5. Of those who have looked at the study does anyone here have to drive through Decatur on a regular basis? I see good and not so good aspects of the proposal. One issue I have is with changing speed limits of major thoroughfares to 20-25 mph as proposed. Drivers who are slowed by speed limits on major thoroughfares will resort to driving on residential streets which will further endanger residents and children. This proposal has Cairemont Ave, College Ave, and Candler Rd. slated for 20-25 mph speed limits. I don’t know if this is a typo, or if the individuals composing this proposal are that out of touch with reality. Other aspects of the proposal are good ideas including reducing speed limits in neighborhoods to 20 mph as well as reducing the limit on Oakview Rd. & East Lake Dr. below the current 35 mph.

    One reason there are not many speed traps (in my opinion) is that there are very few opportunities to speed within the city limits. Traffic is quite heavy and stop lights/signs so frequent that speeding is actually hard to accomplish. Areas which were previously easy to speed through (church & w. ponce) are now bottlenecked by road diets.

      1. I believe it is already 25 mph on S candler between Kirk and the new subdivision near Brower, or am I just getting confused by the signs?

        1. Hmm…I don’t think so. But could very well be. I will say that I wish they would paint a turn only sign way further down (when heading south on Candler) past that new subdivision. People don’t know they can’t go straight and have to cut over at the last minute. It is going to cause some accidents.

      2. Why is it absurd? Candler is residential inside City of Decatur. I am sure the residents will prefer 25 mph speed limit to the current 35 mph.

        1. Yes, residents on Candler are strongly in favor of 25 mph. It’s very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, and it’s a major walk-to-school area, with kids zoned in Winnona Park having to cross Candler. Same with 4th-5th Academy. Those who live on Candler know how dangerous it is. And remember, 35 actually means 40 or 45. A child struck by a car moving that fast is almost certain to be instantly killed. And yes, there is already a 25 posting between Brower and Midway.

          1. Tons of high school and middle schooler cross S. Candler daily. If they stay late at school for activities, there is no crossing guard. I think S. Candler is a bit different than most of the other streets because it is completely residential (in Decatur) and doesn’t have traffic lights at every block to slow down traffic and to allow for safe crossing. I have long been in favor for traffic calming measures on that road, however it is a state route which has been an impediment. The crosswalk with flashing lights has helped, but I have seen drivers go around a car stopped to let pedestrians cross. Perhaps reducing the speed to 25 mph will slow traffic on that road down to 35-40 mph instead of 45-50 mph. And enforcing the speed limit would be good, although I have been told it’s difficult for police to ticket on S. Candler because of the curves or hills.
            I am strongly in favor of reducing the speed limit to 25 mph for any sections of streets running through residential areas.

          1. Walrus: I live on South Candler. I invite you to come over to my house some afternoon — we’ll have beers on the front stoop while MARTA buses and a variety of cars speed past each other at 65 MPH. Then we can talk about absurdity.

            1. How do you know I don’t live on Candler? And 65 mph is absurd as well. “Honey, I just saw someone driving 65 mph, I know the speed limit is already 35 mph, but please call the city and ask that the speed limit be lowered to 25 mph. That’ll slow em’ down!”

              I will take you up on the beer offer though… 🙂

              1. I know that you don’t live on South Candler because, if you did, you would not be complaining about efforts to reduce the speed limit on that street.

                I’m going to tomorrow’s public input session. I will be the guy talking about South Candler. Find me and I will happily treat you to Twain’s finest brews.

    1. During rush hours, those roads essentially become 20-25mph roads. But you would notice the difference on days/times where you aren’t stuck in bumper-to-bumper.

      I like the overall idea of slowing down traffic in areas where pedestrians are going to be, but what’s wrong with taking it a road at a time? If there’s an issue with speeding on _____ Road, then look at that road and determine if reducing the speed limit is appropriate.

      I’m no traffic engineer but if speeds are reduced all at once like this, will traffic lights (GDOT & local) need to be re-timed? Drivers get frustrated in slow traffic and if they feel like they can make the yellow light they are going to speed up to do so if the coast is clear.

    2. I believe you’re looking at the recommendations from the CTP rather than the actual proposal map, which is on page 22. There is no proposal to reduce any speed limit anywhere in the city to 20, despite the fact that the CTP reflects a desire to do so.

      I support this proposal in principle, as it does lower speeds throughout town, but would prefer it more closely mirrored the CTP along the Dequator.

      Win a few, lose a few.

    3. I thought that all state roads/highways, even if passing through the city, those speed limits were set by the state. I remember somewhere in Decatur the speed posted was unenforceable because it was less than the state mandated speed limit on that stretch of road. Has the city figured a way to lower the speed limit and still be able to enforce it on state roads?

      1. From the Summary of the proposed plan:

        “… Revising speed limits at a comprehensive community level provides the opportunity to create a consistent policy for areas of similar land use and character.
        This approach has not been used previously in the State of Georgia. …”

        So yes, something new but perhaps not figuring out a way to get around existing standards.

  6. All of you making comments here need to go the online comment form referenced in Step 2 and make comments there. That’s what it’s there for.

  7. I am very happy to see this proposal. I have wanted a 25 MPH speed limit thought the city for some time now and with community support this will come to light. Soooo in support starting Saturday morning I will not exceed 25 MPH on any street within the city limits. Honk if you must in support or frustration

    1. I won’t even notice your support. At the times of day I travel through the city I’m lucky to hit 25. More important than the speed at which you are traveling I encourage you not to tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, or change lanes in the middle of intersections (Candler & College). All of these activities I witness daily by individuals driving well under the speed limit and are far more dangerous.

    2. That all sounds great in theory, but in reality a 15 mph differential causes major safety issues for you and everyone around you. In other words, it’s counterproductive.

  8. Another thing to keep in mind is that GDOT controls the speed limits on state designated roads, which include, among others, Clairemont, parts of Commerce, College, Scott, and S Candler.

    1. Steve, in other post(s) your write as if you are familiar with the proposal yet here you appear misinformed. My understanding is that by doing a citywide study and changes we avoid the normal GDOT control on state roads. Some like me live on an unmarked state road, one that’s very residential, and learned that lowering the limit from 30 (which means no ticketing until 41mph) was quite unlikely due to GDOT. I’m looking forward to a max of 25mph.

    2. From the opening paragraphs of the Summary …

      “Revising speed limits at a comprehensive community level provides the opportunity to create a consistent policy for areas of similar land use and character.
      This approach has not been used previously in the State of Georgia. Traditionally, speed limits are addressed on individual basis, with specific vehicular traffic data and research presented to the Georgia Department of Transportation for each street. Decatur is well suited to take a broader approach to the issue. In addition to being one of the most densely populated cities in the State of Georgia, the community has a longstanding tradition of smart-growth planning with emphasis on capital projects that enhance transportation options for its residents.”

      1. That’s what it says, but I’m not optimistic about GDOT’s response to the final product. It’s GDOT, you know.

  9. “c. Church Street is proposed to change to 25mph in light of the lane narrowing that occurred after the CTP was prepared.”
    The current speed limit is 35, the speed I travel while decending the hill from the business district towards Glenlake pool. I always back up traffic. And if you think the parking restrictions have made Church Street safer, just try turning left from Church onto Willow or Norris Streets and count the number of cars that pass on the right through the parking zones, and often at a high rate of speed.
    It is foolish to think that lowering the speed limit will result is slower traffic flows unless a police officer is located nearby. What I think will happen is that vehicles will continue to speed in excess of 35 MPH and pedestrians and bikers will be in even greater danger when so called Church Street improvements encourage people to walk and bike. Keep in mind that some/many of the drivers using Church Street on the weekends have been drinking alcohol.
    Lowering the speed limits will also have an unintended consequence of criminalizing the normal driving habits of Decatur citizens. Driving 40 and 35 MPH on Scott and Church, unless within a school zone, seem reasonable to me. I suggest that any change to speed limits be made on a street by street basis using data for that street only.

  10. Really, lowering the speed limit would only ensure one thing. Now, in addition to all of the other traffic laws that all of those crazy bicyclists break, most bikers would now be able to break the speed limit as well.

    (Now…should I put one of those winky, smiley things or just let people wonder if I’m kidding, semi-serious, very serious, or just stupid?)

    1. If I got pulled over for speeding on my bicycle, I don’t know if I would be mad or proud of how fast I was going.

  11. I spent some time over the weekend reading the proposal and its support. In short, the study is at best misleading and likely biased and misguided.

    Remember the now-deactivated red-light cameras that were installed “for safety” but shut down because they didn’t generate enough revenue for the city? This smells familiar.

    I wholeheartedly support efforts to make us a more walkable and safe community for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike, but do not feel that investing resources in lower speed limits (and enforcement) is an effective or worthwhile way to accomplish this goal. As mentioned by an earlier poster, bump-outs, roundabouts or fewer lanes are likely more effective.

    The author(s) of the Decatur study state that “As driving speed increases, so does the likelihood of a collision.” This is not proven.

    Their referenced source actually says: “Speed is also linked to the probability of being in a crash, although the evidence is not as compelling because crashes are complex events that seldom can be attributed to a single factor.”

    This is the key – accident happen because of driver error and conditions not speed alone. A more careful read of the source material shows that speed -differential- is a more likely culprit. Drivers drive the speed they’re comfortable, not the speed that is posted.

    Also, many of the other statistics around accidents and citations are not normalized to account for the higher traffic flows on these roads. More volume = more chances for something to happen. I’d like to see the statistics normalized to show accidents per miles driven or by traffic volume- may (or may not) show that the trend is not higher on the higher-speed-limit streets.

  12. This is a huge step backwards in terms of what we now know from many studies about traffic safety and speed limits. Drivers (i.e. generally rational human beings) typicallly coalesce around a natural speed for most roads, based on perceptions of safety. Imposing a single speed limit on every road in Decatur means posting irrational, inappropriate speed limits on many roads.

    If you want to change driver behavior, change the roads, not the speed limits.

    1. In a perfect world, yes, streets would be engineered based on context and desired speeds and not just through rote allegiance to the Green Book. But it’s certainly a factor that the difference between what the city is trying and what you’re suggesting might be the difference between five *thousand* dollars and five *million* dollars.

      With this effort, will we suddenly get guaranteed ped and bike-friendly speeds? No. But will we get $5,000 worth of compliance (or whatever it costs to redo the necessary signage)? Most likely.

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