City commission wants 30 mph throughout the City, no right turn on red, no permissive left turn on yellow


In a 9-part motion made in response to an update on Vision Zero and Traffic Road Safety, the Gainesville City Commission today directed staff to inform the community of its intent to set the speed limit on all City roads to 30 mph, ask the County and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to follow suit for all roads within the City limits, bring back an analysis of the use of flashing yellow signals, bring back an analysis of limiting/eliminating right turn on red, and bring back an analysis of eliminating center turn lanes.

Vision Zero was identified as a top priority in the FY21/22 Strategic Plan, and over $3 million was allocated in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to design and implement Vision Zero and Traffic Road Safety projects. The goals are to prioritize people over cars, fill gaps in the pedestrian and bicycle networks, analyze crash data to identify projects, and leverage internal and external partnerships and funding to deliver a connected transportation system.

Gainesville had five pedestrian fatalities in 2020; there were five pedestrian fatalities and one bicyclist fatality in 2021. This puts Gainesville at the low end of a group of peer cities in data presented by staff.

Highlighted projects included a multi-use trail along NW 73rd Avenue, an upgrade to the bus stop at GRACE Marketplace, bike lanes on NE 15th Street, converting NW 14th Street and NW 15th Street to a one-way pair, and closing a gap in the sidewalk network on NW 8th Street between NW 9th Avenue and NW 10th Avenue. Scheduled projects include a major redesign of the University/13th Street corridor and improvements to NE 8th Avenue and NW 8th Avenue.

The commissioners made it clear that they want a City-wide speed limit of 30 mph, with a 20 mph speed limit in neighborhoods. Mayor Lauren Poe said, “My intention is that we set speed limits on all streets to 30 and neighborhoods to 20… If it becomes common knowledge that the City speed limit is 30, period, that’s a lot easier for drivers to sort of adapt to, instead of, you know, looking for the sign–can I go 45?”

Phil Mann, Special Advisor to the City Manager, said that City-owned streets are already at 30 mph by state statute, and speeds can be reduced to 25 mph or 20 mph under certain circumstances. Mann said there are “only a handful” of City-owned streets that are at higher speed limits; those are generally rural, and the City has been reducing those over time. Mann said it’s important to understand that “we can change the numbers on the sign, but if we don’t change the characteristics of the roadway, we won’t change the driving behavior.”

Commissioner Harvey Ward wanted an analysis of flashing yellow lights that permit a left turn when there is no oncoming traffic: “I always feel anxious with those yellow left turns.” Ward also said it is common for people to travel over the speed limit on NW 16th Avenue west of NW 13th Street, and he would like to see changes there because he believes it is inevitable that there will be a fatality in that area. He referred to an Attorney General’s report that indicates the City could reduce the speed limit there, even though it is a County-owned road.

Ward asked about the impact of eliminating the ability to turn right on a red light in the City and eliminating center turn lanes, which he referred to as “suicide lanes.” He also mentioned using “scramble” intersections, where all directions of traffic get a red light and pedestrians can go across the intersection in any direction they want: “I’m really interested in trying some of that out.”

Commissioner David Arreola said, “We have to change the mentality of our society,” and Poe agreed: “This is a culture that has developed over 80 years that we’re trying to fix… It’s a national systemic challenge that we have, and we’re pushing as hard against it as we can locally.”

The motion, made by Arreola with friendly amendments as the discussion progressed, had nine parts:

  • Inform the community of the commission’s intent to set all City roads to 30 mph and all neighborhoods to 20 mph. Accompany the change with a plan for an educational campaign and increased enforcement plan.
  • Send a letter to the Board of County Commissioners and FDOT, asking them to follow suit for roads that run through City limits.
  • Ask staff to bring back an analysis of the use of flashing yellow signals throughout the City and whether the City should take a different approach.
  • Include safe pedestrian access to parks as a goal in the Master Plan moving forward. The City already has a goal of having a park within 10 minutes of all neighbors, but “safe” pedestrian access from homes to parks should be added to that goal.
  • Ask staff for regular updates on progress on Vision Zero recommendations.
  • Ask staff to bring back a report regarding the resources needed to speed up the Vision Zero timeline and bring it back for discussion.
  • Ask staff to bring back a memo on the Attorney General’s opinion on the City’s ability to reduce speeds on County-owned roads.
  • Ask staff to bring back an analysis on the impact of limiting/eliminating “right on red” in the City.
  • Ask staff to bring back an analysis on eliminating striking lanes/suicides lanes (center turn lanes).

Regarding enforcement, Interim Police Chief Lonnie Scott told commissioners that his current staff shortages would make it impossible to add a traffic detail for increased enforcement. He said that in spite of offering incentives, they have 30 vacancies, roughly 11-12% of the force.

The vote to approve the motion was unanimous, with Commissioner Reina Saco absent.

  • Do they realize the bottleneck that they will create if every single road is placed at 30 mph? Just imagine every city/county/state road pushed down to 30 mph. They have lost their ever-loving minds! But that’s the city commission – control, control, control.

    • Poe is going to change the world? I believe it is a full moon, in case anyone was wondering. We’re still waiting for him to retrofit the biomass plant to accept yard waste. He’s like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High after he totaled someone else’s car. “Don’t worry, I can fix it, my dad’s a TV repairman, and he has this Ultimate set of tools!”

  • The city commission wants to make their own laws. They do not care about state laws. Poe has already made Gainesville the highest utility in the state. I know he is proud of himself. Now Ward thinks he is a god. It makes me wonder when the city voters will realize what a mistake they made by voting these idiots to the commission. I spend my money outside the city whenever I can. The business owners should realize how much money the commissioners are costing them.

    • Ward is just a petulant child who in all likelihood hides in the shadows fantasizing about what may or my not be deemed immoral.
      When his family wakes up, they’ll definitely see what their idiot husband/father for what he really is.

  • I have a better idea. Commissioners can help by volunteering to be speed bumps.

    • I moved away from Gainesville/Alachua County2 years ago because I gave up on my fellow citizens who will NOT vote in local elections and allow a small minority of over educated idiots to pursue their failed policies.
      Quit complaining. Y’all got what you deserve. Silence is consent. The commission correctly believes that this is what the community wants. They were elected! Do you really expect them to change their personal beliefs? People don’t change. Stop waiting for them to change. Never will happen.

      • That’s the best you have? Quit complaining. What Eutopia do you live in that there isn’t anything to complain about?

  • As much as these wannabe something clowns try to act like they’re very knowledgeable and setting new standards, they are terribly ignorant of any real research and hypocritical on all of it. Failing to repair roads, add or keep up parking, and refusing to widen roads so that people will not drive and be coerced into public transportation. Trouble is, not a single one routinely rides the bus or bikes to city hall. It’s fine for thee, but not for me (like many hypocritical dem leaders that have been exposed the past 2 years (Newsom, Pelosy,,Cuomo, etc). All liars. Ward: “suicide lanes” and “I’m interested in trying some of that”, ignorant, without a shred of facts presented. How many have been killed in Gainesville “suicide lanes” the last 5 years? Zero!

  • I was born in Gainesville in the middle of the last century. Things have always been lefty looney, but it’s gotten worse and worse. I guess the fact it takes 45 minutes to cross town NOW is a small matter to them.

    That being said, if anything ever gets sensible people in the commission, it will be the huge worsening of traffic that is sure to ensue. I look forward to that day.

  • Maybe we should become a ‘dry’ city since alcohol has been involved in some fatalities. Wait… we’re the opposite – an open-container city with drunk people stumbling about in the streets in a haze, possibly getting into a shootout depending on how the night unfolds. And we have kids riding packs of scooters in traffic with very little concern given to their track record of broken necks and deaths in other cities. I remember when millions of dollars were spent to put up the ridiculous blinking yellow left arrows at all intersections. That was the ‘wise’ thing to do at the time.

    • Yes Mr. Peabody…alcohol is a problem. They need
      To outlaw those weed dispensaries too… a lot
      Of impaired drivers out there…if I’m a pedestrian
      And get hit by a car at 30mph, I’m crippled or dead

  • Why does our City Commission feel the need take an extreme response to any given problem? Why can’t they make logical (and rational) decisions?

  • The way the handle “Problems” is absolutely ridiculous. One extreme or the next. How many turtles and birds have we, a small inland city, saved by going to these paper terrorist- I mean straws?! Poe and his flunkies have to be stopped

  • This is what happens when only 10% of the people vote. I’ll be taking my money to another city to shop. The wackos are in charge of Gainesville.

  • I think that people that are anxious at flashing left turn lights should probably work on their ability to gauge how fast oncoming traffic is going and basic physics of motion or maybe stop driving. After all, these skills are frequently needed when driving and who is forcing them to turn? We are becoming a weak society where many delegate their safety to a few in government that react rather than make sound decisions.

  • How many accidents will be caused because traffic flow is throttled even more. Like the homeless problem, our representatives just make more problems with bizarre solutions.

  • This comment says it all:…. Commissioner David Arreola said, “We have to change the mentality of our society,” and Poe agreed: “This is a culture that has developed over 80 years that we’re trying to fix… It’s a national systemic challenge that we have, and we’re pushing as hard against it as we can locally……..
    Control, control, control! They lost the power to force us to wear masks, so now they are trying to get their “control the great unwashed” fix any way that they possibly can. BUT, UNLESS we start getting more than 10-12% of voters to the polls, it is only going to get worse, and they know that!

    • The disease in this country is their mentality and their ideologies. Where’s the vaccine to eradicate them from infecting others?

  • C’mon man!….they want to slow the traffic down to
    Protect the neighbors in the medians who are engaging in commerce there…it’s a public safety issue! ..they want
    No right turn on red so the neighbors with signs there can exercise their first
    Amendment rights and have more time to engage in commerce. Have you seen the neighbor in the middle
    Of 13th St and NW 39th with his mobile home shopping
    Cart overflowing on the sidewalk? How about the
    Neighbors on 39th & Waldo road in the middle of
    The road? I had one of the neighbors that Grace Marketplace attracted to our community set up
    House on the porch of a building I have by UF…That neighbor
    Kicked the door in, caused $500 in damage, misappropriated some property, and ended up getting
    Arrested…guess what? That neighbor is back on the
    Street…the SAO dropped the charges…what about me
    Getting restitution for my damages? I guess it’s part
    Of their redistributing the wealth & equity plan.

  • Desantis will increase the speed limit 10mph on FDOT roads
    If The mask wearing commies in GNV want to petition him to reduce the limit to 30mph…you know what happened with the Vax mandates and mask wearing for
    School children…these commies want our economy
    To slow to a screeching halt.

  • This may be the longest list of comments I’ve seen on any topic in the Alachua Chronicle! So the way to get people’s attention is to mess with their convenience when driving! Who knew? Forget about mask mandates, and vaccination requirements and the other sundry ways that this government has messed with our liberties. Gainesville doesn’t want its traffic meddled with.

    Of course they know how much this will tangle up traffice! The reason for this change is precisely to tangle up traffic further than ever! Have you not been paying attention? It’s been a goal of the liberal city commissions for years now to do just that through slightly more subtle means such as how they time the traffic lights. Once they’ve succeeded in making driving so inconvenient and aggravating that people don’t want to do it anymore, maybe they can get their trollies and horse-drawn carriages! “Progressive” doesn’t describe Democrats at all. They are, and always have been, regressive.

    • I think the key point another commenter made above was that dismal 10-12% voter turnout in local elections. Perhaps we need to formally disqualify ANY election that has less than, say, 60% turnout. Do over until you get it right.

      • Regarding low voter turnout, all Alachua County citizens should be allowed to vote in the City of Gainesville local elections. Everyone is impacted by the policies of the City Commission; traffic, utility rates, crime, business regulation, etc. This makes more sense than allowing non-US citizens to vote in local elections (you know they want that). The City Commissioners will support letting all Alachua County citizens vote in City elections because they know voter turnout will still be low enough to not make a difference. But at least more people could STOP complaining.

        • Well, it has happened again! In the recent election that Cynthia Chestnut won, there were 12,268 people who voted out of 88,735 registered voters for a 13.6% voter turnout. An apathetic electorate empowers the City Commission and re-elects familiar voices. The margin of victory was less than 100 votes. We have “Choices”

  • If Ward goes all wobbly with the flashing yellow turn arrows, I’d give good money to see his reaction to a Pittsburgh left.

  • Forbes (November 10, 2016): “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes.”

    • Will the City Commission Terrorists be promoting Rolling Electricity Blackouts and Climate Lockdowns for Gainesville soon?

  • Next: more red light cameras…they are going to have
    To hire more cops to give out speeding tickets.
    Can they get the panhandlers out of the street medians?

  • “Commissioner David Arreola said, “We have to change the mentality of our society,” and Poe agreed: “This is a culture that has developed over 80 years that we’re trying to fix…” This is some of the scariest ideas I have ever read in 2022. You people are in for a long road… this is called the God complex. These politicians believe everyone in society is inherently bad but they are gunna fix ya. God told them to do it… They will claim..”This hurts me more than it hurts you” God help you people kick them out of office asap.

  • These idiots need to go. My wife and I are California refugees (not native Californians). We have up every opportunity we had in our previous state to chase freedom in Florida. Since our arrival, we have watched insane mask mandates, the city and schools fighting against freedom and personal liberty, homeless appear on every single intersection, and now extreme traffic measures that will give us Los Angeles traffic.

    We’re out of here. The deterioration we have witnessed in only 1 year of being in Gainesville shows a slippery slope.


    • You go outside the county lines and I promise you it’s not like this. This is the most bizarre liberal place I have ever lived in my entire life. I often forget how bad it is until I go somewhere else and remember what “normal” feels like.

  • Anyone remember the redesign of Main Street? The CC decided that they wanted to redesign Main Street (State owned and maintained) from NW16 to SW 16th. The State said fine, you want it you got it and can take over maintenance of 32 blocks! So add that to the backlog!

    • Somebody please help Harvey Ward with his anxiety before he makes our traffic way way worse. The poor guy. Send him the number of a good psychiatrist . He desperately needs one. The citizens are not going to let these crazy nutjobs make all these changes and bottleneck our traffic even worse, it’s bad enough now. These people are pros at making very bad decisions and wasting a lot of money.

  • Just like Covid 0.01% of population dies from this virus = shut down the entire world. Hence, we have 5 pedestrian fatalities, we should take the most extreme measure possible. I don’t minimize the fact that 5 people died and that is horrible. But I’m guessing that most of these are not cars careening out of control onto sidewalks killing people. Could it be possible that the pedestrian also was at fault???? I’m sorry, but it’s pretty difficult to get smashed by a car if your have any awareness. Perhaps we should also remove some of the individuals standing in every median throughout Gainesville. How many of those were run over in the last year?

    • True about the pedestrian being part of the problem. I see them all the time crossing roads tickety-tapping away on their Android or Apple pacifiers. Oblivious to what is going on around them. There is a new addiction that needs to be added to the DSM-5, Cell phone madness.

    • How many were run over? I KNOW, I KNOW!
      Probably wouldn’t appreciate my answer though.😉

  • There are so many things wrong with all this.

    1. With all of the money wasted on “study this, study that”…what if we just fixed our current terrible roads. I know…that makes too much sense.

    2. I cannot imagine not being able to turn right on red and to get away from someone knocking on my car windows begging for money scaring my family and I. Fix that issue. Chief Scott has said he does not have resources and that has been an issue for a long time. Maybe the city commission could offer higher salaries for law enforcement and allow them to do their job. Just another crazy idea.

    3. Getting rid of the middle turn lanes aka the suicide lane (I have never heard it called that before) is about the most ridiculous thing in this entire plan. Slow everything down to 30mph and then don’t allow a vehicle to exit the flow of traffic to make their turn into their neighborhood? So you basically have a vehicle now stopped in a travel lane, waiting for other travel lanes to open up, hoping the vehicles behind them see stopped vehicle and don’t cause a cascade of rear end collisions.

    4. I swear our city government needs to be audited by Tallahassee or whomever audits local governments. The mass turnover rate makes the leadership look bad to me. The shady money practices make the leader ship look bad. The arbitrary decisions that go against the city attorney and a board designed to make recommendations is shady. Someone needs to come in and flip every stone, open every file and question every decision. Things are not right.

    5. Rant over. 🙂

  • So 6 million dollars are going to be set aside for this mess and then they say they don’t have money to fix the roads. Use the money to fix the roads first!
    We need to keep is in mind when they propose these increase the sales tax to improve the roads and fix the schools.

  • Doing as their handlers tell them…..the great reset wants no vehicles on the road by 2030 ….Agenda 2030 wants only public transportation ….email them and ask if they’ve ever made a decision on their own free will

  • Changing rules to satisfy the Lowest Common Denominator (or the Least Likely Scenario) is a form of cultural destruction, a bedrock principle of Marxism. This traffic proposal would help panhandlers and open container drunks, plus distracted peds and clueless cyclists, while impeding those more engaged with each other, who need to advance.

  • God forbid we expect pedestrians to get their respective heads out of their…phones and pay attention to their surroundings. Thank God we have our illustrious schitty commission to save us from ourselves!

  • Q: does the city treasury have enough funds to change out every speed limit sign, and add “no right on red” signs at every intersection?
    A: No.
    As usual the GCC are wasting time and hot air, avoiding the fact people are always blaming guns and cars and drivers — generalizing and grouping in divisive language — but not the behavior of all individuals involved. Case by case is what America stands for. Not group grievances and blame games.

  • This was overlooked, the reason for allowing right turns on red lights back in the 1970s: “by eliminating the idling time of a car sitting at a light and permitting right turns, fuel efficiency is increased exponentially.” and “UPS drivers “are trained to map their routes to turn right whenever possible, [which] saves fuel and reduces emissions by minimizing the length of time our trucks are idling. And it’s safer too, because you don’t have to cross traffic.” From the US Department of Energy “Right Turn on Red!” — https://www.energy.gov/articles/right-turn-red.

  • >