Citywide 25 MPH Speed Limit
Beginning in 2023, the speed limit in thickly settled or business districts citywide has been reduced to 25 miles per hour. Only a small portion of the streets in Lowell do not meet this requirement. The adjusted speed limit is intended to make Lowell streets safer for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and to reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash.
At the November 22, 2022 City Council Meeting, City Council voted to opt-in to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, Section 17C, authorizing the reduced statutory speed limit and authorizing implementation of the measure on a City-wide basis in late 2023. Statutory speed limits exist int he absence of special speed regulations on file with MassDOT.
The reduced speed limit does not apply to streets with existing special speed regulations. Click Here to view a map of streets with special speed regulations. These special speed regulations remain in effect with the change in the statutory speed limit.
This month (November 2023), the City of Lowell will be installing new signs at the City's borders and other key locations advising motorists of the new speed restriction. The Lowell Police Department intends to conduct an extensive public information campaign as the new measure takes effect to ensure motorists are aware of the change before strict enforcement of the reduced speed limit takes place.
When will enforcement of the new speed limit begin?
The Lowell Police Department intends to engage in extensive public outreach to make sure that drivers are aware of the reduced speed limit prior to issuing tickets and strictly enforcing the measure. The public education process is expected to last through early 2024, with enforcement beginning in June 2024.
Officers may pull over motorists exceeding the 25 MPH speed limit in certain cases but will issue informational materials about the new citywide policy during the initial phases of implementation. The Lowell Police Department will have directed patrols in certain areas that are identified to experience a high volume of motorists exceeding the new speed limit or traveling at excessive speeds.
Why was the speed limit changed?
The adjusted speed limit is intended to make Lowell streets safer for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and to reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash. This change is in accordance with Lowell's Complete Streets Policy.
What streets are not subject to the 25 MPH speed limit?
Certain roads with existing speed regulations are not subject to the reduced speed limit, even if they are in a tickly settled or business district. There are several special speed regulations on file with MassDOT, governing 17 local jurisdiction roadways in Lowell. Throughfares under Massachusetts Department of Transportation jurisdiction, such as VFW Highway and the Lowell Connector have special speed regulations. A map of special speed regulation roadways can be found here.
Can a 25 MPH speed limit sign be placed on my street?
Because the reduced speed limit is a citywide measure, the City is placing new signage at the City's borders and other strategic locations. These signs clearly indicate that the speed limit applies citywide. The City will not be installing signs on every street where the reduced speed limit applies.
If you have an existing 30 MPH sign on your residential street, a replacement sign can be requested from the Lowell Police Department Sign Shop.
What is considered a thickly settled or business district?
MGL Chapter 90, Section 1 defines thickly settled or business district as: "the territory contiguous to any way which is built up with structures devoted to business, or the territory contiguous to any way where the dwelling houses are situated at such distances as will average less than two hundred feet between them for a distance of a quarter of a mile or over." Very few streets do not meet this definition in Lowell.