Drivers in Folly Beach will have to ease off the gas when speed limits on the island go down this summer.
The reduction to 25 mph was recently approved by the S.C. Department of Transportation and will affect the entire island.
There’s no set timeline for when the change will go into effect, but City Administrator Spencer Wetmore said the city will start to replace speed limit signs in the coming weeks.
A grassroots group of residents on the island advocated for the change for a while. Many people started to plant small, green men figures with “slow down” stickers in their yards, Wetmore said.
Last year, residents held a “Slow Down Saturday” event to create awareness around traffic safety.
“We’ve had petitions from hundreds of residents and emails and public appearances, and this is really important to them,” Wetmore said.
In 2015, the city asked DOT, which has authority over all of the roads on Folly, to lower the speed limit. The request was turned down because the state wanted a traffic study before it made any changes.
Folly was only recently able to complete a study with help from former Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority Director Howard Chapman and graduate students at The Citadel.
The results suggested many drivers were already traveling at around 25 mph, though the posted limit was 30.
Many residents preferred a limit of 20, but DOT stuck with the study’s suggestion, Wetmore said.
Mayor Tim Goodwin said the island has gradually changed to a place with more year-round families with young children, as opposed to its traditional status as a rental market. Those families were crucial in advocating for slower speeds, he said.
He added that the speed reduction will give drivers more reaction time when unaware pedestrians cross the street.
“It’s crazy,” Goodwin said of the walkers. “They think they’re in Disney World or something and just don’t pay attention.”