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Norfolk lowers some residential speed limits to save pedestrian, bicyclist lives

City Council approved a plan to reduce speeds in neighborhoods from 25 to 20 miles per hour. It's a part of the city's "Vision Zero" initiative to save lives.

NORFOLK, Va. — Residents in the Berkley section of Norfolk said speeding is all too normal in their neighborhood.

"A lot of people come in and out of here like nobody lives here, just flying through," said resident Estafan Prince.

Bernard "Pee Wee" Thompson, another Berkley resident, agreed that drivers weren't careful enough in their corner of Norfolk.

"It's always scary because you never know -- sometimes you hear wheels squealing," he said.

The city has been fielding complaints about drivers in the area, and decided to take action. 

City Council approved a plan last month to reduce speeds in residential neighborhoods from 25 to 20 miles per hour. It's a part of the city's "Vision Zero" initiative to save lives.

 Vision Zero works to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. More than 40 cities have adopted the Vision Zero policy.

This week, the new signs started going up in Norfolk.

"Let's see what happens," Prince said. "Hopefully it slows them down a little bit."

It's not just a local problem, although Berkley residents have a front-row seat to dangerous driving. Data shows more pedestrians and bicyclists have been dying recently on Virginia roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a 59% increase in pedestrian deaths over the past decade. Deaths among cyclists jumped 9%.

Amy Inman, the director of Norfolk's Department of Transportation, said the pandemic lowered the number of pedestrian and bike-related fatalities in the last year.

"On average, we have about 15 pedestrian and bike-related fatalities or major accidents," she said.

She said there are safety concerns as traffic ticks back up.

Michael Merritt, with Bike Norfolk, wants to see more than just reduced speed. His organization wants to see totally separate bicycle lanes.

"Granby Street is a major drive of ours -- to get bicycle lanes added to Granby Street," Merritt said.

He told 13News Now that Bike Norfolk is working to get community leaders on board to start the planning process.