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Ask Chicagoist: What's the Speed Limit?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Nov 30, 2007 2:10PM

2007_11_askspeed.jpgDear Chicagoist,

I've been driving around Chicago for a couple years and I can't recall seeing a single speed limit sign on any city streets. Is there a standard speed limit within the city or are we all allowed to drive like cabbies out there?

Your friend,

Now, Brian. Are we going to have to have a talk with Jesse White about you? You do have an Illinois driver's license, don't you? Did you have to take a written test before they gave it to you? We know you did, because even if you came here from out-of-state with a valid license you'd have to take it. We took it (we missed one). And if you don't have an Illinois license, we can only assume that for the past two years you've been driving around Chicago during the day, and then back home to Iowa at night, because we're certain a smart man like yourself would know that you have to get an Illinois license within 90 days of moving here. Right, Brian?

OK, fine. Maybe you don't have "Rules of the Road" memorized. So as a refresher — a sign isn't needed for a speed limit to be in effect. The law states that in city or town areas in Illinois, the speed limit is 30 m.p.h., "unless otherwise posted." Most streets in Chicago simply don't fall under that "when otherwise posted" guideline. They're pretty much just expecting drivers to know there's a limit, to save having to post signs all over the city. Makes sense to us. In school zones the limit goes down to 20 m.p.h., "during school days between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. when children are present and signs are posted."

Since we're talking about speed limits (and really, who doesn't want to talk about speed limits?), we thought we should also remind everyone that the winter speed limit on Lakeshore Drive starts Saturday. From December 1 to April 1, not only are everyone's favorite winter parking regulations in effect, but also the speed limit on LSD drops from 45 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. from Oak Street all the way north to Hollywood Avenue. Apparently the speed limit drop, which we're sure Chicago's conscientious motorists will pay special attention to, is done "to protect the median landscaping from winter road deicing spray." Okie-Doke.

As for the cabbies, just be thankful when they're super fast when you're super late.

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