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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

It would be nice if there were a majority in favor of such streets. But in many neighborhoods the overriding concern is keeping "strangers" from entering.

A neighborhood that is unattractive to move through is the next best thing to being in a gated community.

[C]ars that have automatic transmission have difficulty managing that speed...

As I said in the comment immediately above the one you linked to, all automatics have two settings below "D" that prevent the transmission from upshifting. There's no need to ride the brake.

Two things are being left out -- and in the case of AAA, deliberately misrepresented -- in the debate around the 15mph speed limit. First, it is not being proposed that all residential neighborhoods have a 15mph speed limit. Rather, under current law, except under rather limited circumstances the lowest speed limit that may be set is 25mph. The change to the law would allow a lower speed limit when it is appropriate.

Second, current MPD policy is that there is an 11mph "grace period" in ticketing. So a 15mph stated limit is a 26mph de facto limit -- and the current 25 is a de facto 36. There are many residential streets in the city where 26 is pushing it and 36 is way too fast.

Why not have traffic calming and lower speed limits? The belt and suspenders approach.

The lower speed limit gives law enforcement a better tool to go after reckless driving. CM Cheh should get into the action with this and also push for a lower design speed. As you mentioned, people drive faster because they can drive faster. Let's make it where they physically can't. Places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen are bike meccas because on main arterials they have wonderful separated cycletracks, but they also do a lot of really dramatic traffic calming on the neighborhood streets. We need more of that here.

Sure, all this is well and good, but in America we have the "Principle of GTFOOMY." So long as pedestrians and cyclists adhere to this 100% of the time, they're perfectly safe.

Most likely what we'll see is organizations like AAA arguing that we should "concentrate on enforcing the speed limits we have." After all, lowering the speed limit will just lead to more contempt for the law.

At least until the DC council drops this current initiative to lower the minimum speed limit.

*Then* we'll see AAA arguing we should concentrate on making sure the speed limits aren't enforced. After all, sometimes people make mistakes, and you need to give them a cushion.

Think of it as the "no belt, no suspenders" strategy.

in America we have the "Principle of GTFOOMY."

Sorry; this should, of course, read "GTFOOMW".

Policy makers and the police need to be assuming the same margin of error, or we an absurd situation. AAA is more concerned about cars actually being limited to 15 mph, than they are about cars being limited to 25 mph in residential zones--and realistically, the cars driving 36 mph in a residential zone are a key problem.

Perhaps it would be better for the DC legislation to state that allowable enforcement buffer is 5 mph in residential streets; and then allow speed limit to be lowered to 20 mph.

Optimistically, I think AAA can back the idea that one gets a ticket for exceeding 25 mph on a residential street in a residential zone (i.e. not a multi-lane artery).

On non-residential streets, take out one of the parking lanes and replace with a two-way protected cycletrack. Car storage on public roads is not an entitlement (at least, I can't find it in the laws anywhere). We need that road space for transportation -- car storage of the scale currently allowed in downtown and other sections of DC is an inappropriate use of public space. Business owners will get more traffic, by foot and bike, anyway on roads with cycletracks or expanded sidewalks. At the very least, on-street car parking should be priced at market rates, so that drivers aren't forever circling blocks and snarling traffic hoping to snag an oversubsized storage spot.


Apropos article by way of Carlton Reid:


It would be interesting to see examples of how various forms of traffic calming take into account emergency vehicle requirements. When our Silver Spring neighborhood was repaved a few years ago, the speed bumps were actually mellowed, evidently, according to the inspector, as a requirement to make for a faster route for emergency response. Of course now drivers barely need to slow for the bumps.

As far as cycletrack, at least one cross-downtown (K,L,M) would/should be the best next step for DC. A true cycletrack, with curb and parking separation. That, combined with CaBi, is without a doubt the way to get more non-"cyclists" on bikes. I know this isn't a new idea. What has happened with that?

Oboe: in Mongolia we have the "Principle of GTFOOMY[urt]."

"the speed limit is not strictly enforced."

what does -- given the evidence! -- "strictly" add to this sentence?...

more liberal pandering...more mealy-mouth weasel words, will not achieve your goals...oh, i forgot, you dont have any goals, other than just to write words on a computer screen...and to share them with other inactive whiners.

do you have any goals for your children?...or is the worth of their existence similarly justified mystically in their mere existence?...and the mindless belief in this as the best of all possible worlds?...after all, we all know the children are our future, and bikes will save the world...

Not true. My primary goal is to be ruthlessly insulted by anonymous and incoherent commenters.

Mission Accomplished.

*Then* we'll see AAA arguing we should concentrate on making sure the speed limits aren't enforced. After all, sometimes people make mistakes, and you need to give them a cushion.

Actually, the current AAA talking point is that speed limits should reflect the speed that people actually drive. You hear a lot about the "85th percentile rule" -- the idea that the speed limit should be set where 85% of the drivers are below it. Of course, then add a cushion of 11mph (14 in Maryland) and presto! -- you've solved the speeding problem, no one speeds any more.

@ Max:
"When our Silver Spring neighborhood was repaved a few years ago, the speed bumps were actually mellowed, evidently, according to the inspector, as a requirement to make for a faster route for emergency response."
Having spent an EXTREMELY painful ride in the back of an ambulance going over the speed humps on Sligo Creek Parkway towards Holy Cross Hospital 2.5 years ago after a bike crash, I can certainly see where speed humps + emergency vehicles do not mix well.

I'd just like to know how/why "traffic calming" always seems to include bump outs, which invariably force shoulder riding cyclists (where shoulders exist) to merge into the travel lane. And those bump-outs are often (see Arcola) accompanied by center-of-the-road pedestrian "safety" islands, which make the road calm and safe for everyone but the cyclist.

I think bumpouts work better in the city where there is no shoulder then on suburban roads with a shoulder. I find that people's opinion of them is tied exactly to where they ride.

I agree with a lot of the above people. I'd rather see the existing 25mph limits enforced, before we open up a discussion about lowering the limits down to 15.

For starters, closing the enforcement buffer at low speeds would be a great idea. Driving 36mph in a 25mph zone (44% over the limit) is a big problem, while driving 60mph on a 50mph road (20% over the limit) doesn't present nearly as much of a hazard. Maybe it's time to move to a percentage-based system? 20% seems like a decent margin to use, which would make the thresholds 30mph for a 25mph road, and 60mph for a 50mph road.

As I'm sure everyone knows, traffic enforcement in DC is spotty at best (although the fines tend to be huge). David Alpert at GreaterGreaterWashington put forth an interesting idea today -- use automated enforcement (ie. cameras) to *mercilessly* ticket speeders, while coupling this increased enforcement with small fines. Consistent enforcement with small fines would both be more "fair," and more likely to encourage safe driving habits.

As a frequent visitor to the Netherlands, I've got to add that Mr. Wang would have been taking his life in his hands if he had been a pedestrian in a Dutch town (although less so in Amsterdam itself). Dutch streets make the W&OD look pedestrian-friendly :-)

The surest way to kill any possibility of majority support for lower speed limits is to tie it to reduced on-street parking.

Very good point about the speed bumps, 7. They are certainly not my favorite calming device, but they are what we have, and now they are essentially useless.

What is the story behind these 'enforcement buffers"? What is their purpose? Is it to accommodate radar equipment inconsistencies?

Keep the 25 mph speed limit. Enforce it by deputizing residents to operate speed cameras in their neighborhood. Enforcement problem solved. Neighborhood traffic calmed. No speed bumps.

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