Effective immediately, speed limits are being reduced in Shepherdstown in hopes of keeping pedestrians safe.
The speed limit changes will take place inside the corporation limits. Duke Street, German Street, South Princess Street and part of Washington Street will remain at 25 miles an hour, the minimum speed limit for state-maintained roads. Alleyways, including Shoe Lane, Browns Alley and Maiden Lane, will have speed limits of 10 miles per hour. All other city-maintained streets in Shepherdstown will have speed limits of 20 miles per hour. The new speed limits will be radar-enforced.
Shepherdstown Police Chief David Ransom said the changes were made to promote pedestrian safety.
A sign in downtown Shepherdstown displays the current speed limit.
"I wanted the speed limits changed because we have a lot of vehicle traffic in town," Ransom said. "A lot of it is too fast given the amount of pedestrians and students we have here."
Pedestrian safety is a big concern for Shepherdstown and Shepherd University, which recently completed a pedestrian underpass between parts of campus.
"In the last two or three years, we've had two students struck by vehicles on North Duke Street," Ransom said. "Speed was not the major factor there; the lack of a safe crosswalk contributed to it."
In his experience as a police officer in Shepherdstown, Ransom said lower speed limits could help reduce the risk of accidents.
"Sitting here monitoring traffic and running radar, (I found) people drive too fast. We want them to slow down," Ransom said.
Ransom said all speed limits in Shepherdstown were previously set at 25 miles per hour, with the exception of High Street, which was 15 miles per hour, and the alleys at 10 mph.
"There were several people who drove around doing a speed study. We drove 15 miles per hour, we drove 20, we drove 25, and we all got back together and said 20 miles per hour is a good speed," Ransom said.
Ransom said there were no changes to the speed limit on state-maintained roads because West Virginia codes do not allow for reductions in the speed limit below 25 miles per hour.
Ransom and the other officers of the Shepherdstown Police Department want to make the changes clear to returning Shepherd University students, who begin the fall semester Aug. 26.
"I'm going to put it on our department's Facebook page, I'll send a copy over to Shepherd University and put it out to all their access, and I'll probably send a copy to The Picket and The Chronicle," Ransom said. "We'll get it out there and word will spread pretty quickly."