ST. PETE BEACH — Motorists driving through this beach town will soon have to proceed much slower on some neighborhood roadways, especially those without adjacent sidewalks.

A move to address concerns of Sunset Way residents in Pass-a-Grille and reduce the speed limit in that residential neighborhood to 20 mph steamrolled into adopting similar restrictions on other parts of the island.

During the July 27th city commission meeting, Community Development Director Michelle Gonzalez recalled during previous meetings residents living along Sunset Way, between 30th Avenue and 22nd Avenue, shared their concerns about cut-throughs and traffic speeding along their neighborhood street.

Sunset Way is a narrow two-way street, with on-street parking to one side, and no sidewalks for safe pedestrian mobility, she explained. To remedy the situation, city staff recommended lowering the speed limit from 25 to 20 mph.

When it comes to implementing additional safety improvements along Sunset Way, Gonzalez explained, staff will follow up with an engineering assessment, part of a citywide traffic calming project to collect and analyze data. This study will help determine the appropriate traffic calming measures to address safety concerns for this corridor, which may include speed bumps and shared-lane markings for cyclists. Residents also asked the city to add additional signs indicating the reduced speed limit.

She explained Florida statutes state the lowest speed limit a municipality can set for a local street is 20 mph. She said the speed limit on all city roads in commercial areas is 30 mph, on state roads it’s 35 mph, and it’s 25 mph in all residential areas, unless otherwise provided by ordinance.

She noted the lower 20 mph speed limit in the city now includes Gulf Way from 1st Avenue to 22nd Avenue, 44th Avenue from Gulf Boulevard to Poinsettia Drive, 41st Avenue from Belle Vista Drive to Poinsettia Drive, Belle Vista Drive from 39th Avenue to Oleander Way, and soon Sunset Way from 22nd Avenue to 30th Avenue.

At the meeting, city staff recommended commissioners approve an ordinance to add reducing the speed limit along Sunset Way from 25 to 20 mph; however, by the end of discussion, commissioners determined that is just the beginning of a traffic slowdown initiative expected to stretch into other neighborhoods

City Manager Alex Rey emphasized “we cannot go lower than 20 mph.”

In moving to extend the lower speed limit to other parts of the city, Commissioner Ward Friszolowski advised fellow commissioners there are only three streets in the Belle Vista neighborhood that are 20 mph, “so that means technically all the other streets are 25 mph.”

He added, “That sort of confuses the issue a little bit, because there are going to be 20 and 25 mph speed limit signs, which will sort of confuse residents. You’re in the same neighborhood and turn the corner and can go 5 mph faster or slower.”

Rey asked if Friszolowski would consider making the entire Belle Vista area 20 mph. Friszolowski answered affirmatively, noting, “There is an assumption that the speed limit is 20 mph, because those are the only speed limit signs you see.”

Gonzalez suggested staff can add streets in the Belle Vista neighborhood to the ordinance on second reading, making all streets 20 mph just to be consistent.

Friszolowski told fellow commissioners, “We have become a lot more walkable than I remember it 30 or 35 years ago; I don’t know if it’s just a lifestyle people have. They are out walking their dog and pushing baby carriages, and unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of sidewalks in some of our neighborhoods; in addition to that you have some really winding streets.”

The city should address traffic safety in neighborhoods that don’t have sidewalks and are not designed for higher speeds, the city manager said, “because you have pedestrians intermixed with traffic; they are trying to squeeze within the supposed bicycle lane, but sometimes they are into the street because there is no space.”

Friszolowski said other dynamics include bicyclists coming over the Bayway Bridge and cutting through the Don CeSar area to get to Pass-a-Grille. Commissioner Chris Gaus said he sees a lot of scooters and electric bicycles traveling in bike lanes through neighborhoods. “They are either in the bike lane or road,” he said. “You need to slow down and keep an eye out for those folks.”

The city manager said a second reading on the ordinance will be delayed to give commissioners time to consider what other streets they want to add for a 20 mph speed limit.