You’ll Have to Drive 25 mph in Boston Next Year

Drive slower, kill fewer pedestrians, the city says.
A 25 MPH speed limit sign highlighted by a blue sky in the background.

Photo via iStock.com/kkant1937

After lots of talk about how to make Boston streets a little safer, the speed limit in Boston is set to drop to 25 mph next year.

The City Council moved to reduce the default maximum speed at its meeting on Wednesday. It is supposed to take effect January 9. That means that on streets where speed isn’t dictated by a sign, cars will no longer be allowed to drive at 30 mph, the previous limit.

An earlier version of this proposal called for the limit to be reduced to a soul-crushing 20 mph, a pace that the Globe ably demonstrated might, in some parts of the city, motivate your fellow commuters to cause you harm.

Pedestrian safety advocates, and officials like Mayor Marty Walsh, hope it will cut down on the number of accidents on densely settled roadways, and on backstreets where drivers have no business going 30 mph in the first place. Or, they hope it will at least make traffic accidents less fatal, as collisions tend to be significantly less devastating when speed is reduced even by relatively small margins (the likelihood of a pedestrian’s death following a crash is cut nearly in half with a drop from 30 to 25 mph, according to research cited by city on a webpage making the case for the change).

Walsh, via the Vision Zero Boston initiative, aims to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city by 2030. Other efforts that have come out of that include better-designed streets made with traffic-calming measures and features like protected bike lanes.

“This is an important milestone in our Vision Zero efforts of bringing the number of traffic-related deaths to zero, and with approval of this petition we are one step closer to achieving that goal,” Walsh said in a statement to the Globe.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com