As part of the City’s Vision Zero strategy to reduce traffic speeds, the City has expanded the number of 20 mph safety zones to cover most residential streets and areas with schools, senior centers, medical facilities, and parks.
Reducing speeds are a critical component to increasing transportation safety because a person walking is four times more likely to be killed by a vehicle traveling at 30mph, and eight times more likely to be killed by a vehicle going 40mph, than by a vehicle traveling at 20mph.
Source: National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
In 2016, the City of Somerville reduced the citywide speed limit to 25 mph. In 2017, the City began designating streets as Safety Zones to further reduce the speed limits to 20 mph. From 2020 to 2021, the City expanded 20 mph safety zones to cover most residential streets. In 2022, a review was conducted of all city streets. Six new segments were identified and approved by the City’s Traffic Commission to be designated safety zones. From 2022 to 2023, the City will collect traffic, speed, and safety data to study the effectiveness of Safety Zones and the City’s current signage strategy.
While speed limits do not prevent dangerous behavior, lower speed limits signal to people driving that more caution is needed.
There are currently 508 street segments in the City identified as safety zones. A complete list can be found in the Somerville Traffic Regulations.
Check out all Safety Zone streets and signs in the interactive map below. The streets highlighted in green indicate which streets have been designated as Safety Zone streets. The orange circle markers show locations of future Safety Zone signs and the blue circle markers show locations of current Safety Zone signs.
Safety Zone signs look similar to general speed limit signs but include a fluorescent yellow section at the top with the text “Safety Zone”. This design is consistent with safety zone signage across the state.
The City has conducted an inventory of all Safety Zone Signage and is continuing to roll out remaining signage. In accordance with State rules, signs are posted at the beginning of every street that has a 20 mph speed limit. This does not mean that signs are posted on each individual block that makes up a street. Two-way streets have at least one sign in each direction and one-way streets have at least one sign. Signs are installed by the City’s Sign Crew in the Parking Department.
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