Washington Examiner: DC Council’s 15 MPH Neighborhood Speed Limit Bills

Proposed 15 mph speed limit sparks debate

By: Liz Essley | 11/05/11 7:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer

Two members of the D.C. Council are hoping to put the brakes on drivers zooming through urban neighborhoods, but critics call their proposed solution an overreaction that could snarl traffic and irritate drivers.

Council members Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells introduced a bill earlier this week that would drop the residential speed limit in the District from 25 mph to 15 mph.

Proponents of the bill acknowledge that it’s a rigorous standard to impose on drivers, but say it will help protect pedestrians.

"Will it get them to 15 miles per hour? No, but it might reduce them from 35 or 40 or from rolling through stop signs," said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

But some see the proposal as unrealistic. "I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to drive 15 miles per hour. I’ve tried it. You almost have to tap your brakes repeatedly," said AAA Mid-Atlantic’s John Townsend. "To have a blanket speed limit like that would almost make traffic worse in the District of Columbia and may lead to more road rage."

Residential speed limits in both Maryland and Virginia are 25 mph. Townsend said American Samoa is the only place he knows of with a 15 mph residential speed limit.

Bowser says the speeding problem is too pervasive to ignore.

"We have an incredible problem with speeding in our neighborhoods," said Bowser. "That’s from dealing with an incredible number of speed bump petitions, stop sign requests, as well as just general frustration that people are just driving recklessly through neighborhood streets."

The bill would only apply to residential streets, not larger arterial roads. And the mayor would have the power to make exceptions, block by block.

The slower speeds are necessary for pedestrian and bicycle safety, advocates said. D.C. already has a 15 mph speed limit near schools and in alleys.

Bowser and others pointed to research showing that pedestrians are far less likely to die if hit by a car going 20 mph instead of 40 mph.

"She’s certainly on the right track here, and there’s evidence to back it up," said Stewart Schwartz, president of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, adding that streets will need to be narrowed to really slow down cars.

Bowser’s bill will next have to clear the Committee on Environment, Public Works and Transportation. No hearing date has been set.

lessley

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/11/proposed-15-mph-speed-limit-sparks-debate#ixzz1d2HwjPdo

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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