By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A battle is brewing at the state capitol to lower the speed limits on city streets.

Bicycling advocates are pushing for to lower the speed from 30 mph to 25. Experts say it will help keep pedestrians and bikers safe and get more people out exercising.

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“We want the speed limits to be lower simply because we know speed kills,” Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota Deputy Director Nick Mason said.

For years, bicyclists have wanted a lower speed limit on city streets — they say it’s one way to guarantee surviving getting hit by a car. The state’s bike lobby hopes to drop the speed limit in the city’s urban core.

“At about 20 mph, you’ve got about a 5 percent chance of dying if you get hit by a car,” Mason said. “But when you go to 30 mph, it’s about 50 percent, and when you go to 40 mph, it’s almost 90 percent.”

The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota says they’ll take the fight to the state capitol.

“Bicycling is not only something that’s very popular for recreation, but its increasing a mode of transportation,” said Minnesota Rep. Frank Hornstein.

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Hornstein is the senior member of the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee. He supports a move to slow cars down on city streets.

“This is safety issue at its core,” Hornstein said. “It’s common sense, and it will make everybody safer — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.”

“We’re talking about cities around the state choosing to be able to have that tool of 25 mph or less for their city,” Mason said.

The bike lobby knows it has a tough road ahead in the quest to make roads safer.

“There has been some resistance at the state capitol, and actually the trend has been moving in the opposite direction — where we’ve increased the speed limit,” Hornstein said.

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Bicyclists like Mason say they can tell the difference when they are riding in a city where the limit is 25 miles per hour or lower. They say they feel safer when cars are not whizzing by at 30 to 40 mph.

Reg Chapman