Imagine If People Really Drove the Speed Limit

It’s amazing how easy it is to be a radical when you talk about changing any aspect of car culture in the United States.

Take today’s featured post from the Streetsblog Network, from Newton Streets and Sidewalks. It is aptly titled "A Modest Proposal":

2656429501_a7e39ca21f_m.jpgPhoto by The Truth About via Flickr.

For
the last year or so, when I drive, I have been consciously driving at
the speed limit on Newton roads. Not at the assumed
safe-from-a-speeding-ticket speed limit plus 10 mph, but right smack
dab at the speed limit. So far, it does not seem to have a meaningful
effect on trip time within the city. And, when I go the speed limit,
everyone else behind me goes the speed limit.…It would be a nice
statement of support for our neighborhoods and recognition of the
impact speeding traffic has if the mayor would institute and mayoral
candidates would support a policy that all city-owned vehicles and all
city-contracted vehicles (school buses, plows, &c.) are to be
driven at the speed limit.

Not within a reasonable margin above, but right at or below.

It’s
an idea that is staggering in its simplicity and power. Imagine taking
it further: Imagine a city leader who would challenge all citizens of a
municipality to drive at the speed limit. Imagine a city leader who
would drive at the speed limit him or herself.

Radical, right? Especially when law enforcement officers in many jurisdictions don’t think that speeding is really speeding. And especially when you look at how dramatically fatalities go up when pedestrians are hit by drivers going over 25 mph.

Other goodness from around the network: Cap’n Transit looks at a new report about the high cost of urban highways; Matt Yglesias contemplates the rotten culture of state DOTs; and Portland Transport wonders if you can really feel good about riding an elecrtic bike.

  • Spokker

    I was driving 25 in a school zone once while kids were getting into their buses. A woman in an SUV behind me honked, flipped me off, and went into the opposite lane to pass me.

    Go cars.

  • Sam

    When I take the 110 home to Pasadena at night, I like to get in the left lane and set the cruise control to 58 mph. You can drive without ever hitting the breaks, even on the curves. It is amazing, though, how many people ride my tail, flash their headlights, speed around me, only to slam on their brakes when they hit the curves.

  • doug

    Call me crazy, but I set my cruise control to 55 on the 210, 134 and 110 even when the speed limits are 65. Everyone, except truck drivers, are going faster than I am, but the highways are wide enough that passing me is no big deal. I get much better gas mileage, I only add 2-3 minutes to my trip, and I can actually look at the scenery once in a while. It’s nice.

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