Not much new out there, so my only link today is from this Economist article that I failed to link to before and is nearly three months old. The article is about how America is unsafe for cyclists - when compared to certain European cities, and the reason is that safety is taken less seriously.
Had Mr Wang been commuting on a busy bike route in Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Berlin, his unprotected exposure to instruments of death—namely, any vehicle moving at 20mph or more—would be nearly nil. These cities have knitted together networks for everyday travel by bike. To start with, motor vehicles allowed near cyclists are subject to “traffic calming”. They must slow down to about 19mph, a speed that, in case of collision, kills less than 5%. Police strictly enforce these speed limits with hefty fines. Repeat offenders lose their licenses.
This is different than the situation in DC. The speed limit here is higher, especially outside the city. We have a less extensive bike network. The speed limit is not strictly enforced. And no one loses their license.
Recently Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells introduced a bill to lower the speed limit to 15mph on neighborhood streets in DC. AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend called this speed "not humanly possible", which is ridiculous, but it is true that cars that have automatic transmission have difficulty managing that speed. Emissions go up and wear increases. And since most people in America drive automatic transmission, that is something to consider. I addition, speed limits are already ignored and mostly unenforced. In such an environment a lower limit will have little effect.
Perhaps a better solution can be found.
What if there were a law that allowed neighborhoods to formally request a livable street (aka road diet) - as they now do for speed humps. Once a request is approved, the road would be "re-zoned" as a "slow neighborhood street." The next time DDOT did a major repair or repainting it would include a combination of narrowed travel lanes, bike lanes, bumpouts, etc... that would make the design speed of the road less than 25mph.
Bowser and Wells should be credited for their proposal, but I think it can be made better - even if the changes will be slower.
Going back to the Economist article, the other thing we need are more cycletracks.
In much of northern Europe, cyclists commute on lanes that are protected from cars by concrete buffers, rows of trees or parked cars. At busy crossroads, bicycle-activated traffic lights let cyclists cross first. Traffic laws discriminate in favour of people on bikes.