We appreciate how well the Roslindale Bulletin continues to cover WalkUP Roslindale’s core issues. Earlier this month, Christopher Roberson wrote this piece about the Boston City Council’s move to set the default Boston speed limit to 20 mph. This will save lives, as the survivability of a pedestrian-automobile crash is mainly a function of speed: 90% of
pedestrians hit by cars die when struck at 40 mph compared to 5% at 20 mph.
Our own District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy had some nice quotes in the piece:
District 5 Councillor Timothy McCarthy said the last speed limit change was implemented by a transportation commissioner who was from Ludlow, where higher speed limits are more common.
“If you go 20 mph in Ludlow, you probably wouldn’t get out of Ludlow for a few days,” said McCarthy. “But in our area, 20 mph is plenty.”
He said that West Roxbury Police Sgt. Michael O’Hara has done demonstrations in the past to show the actual speed of a vehicle traveling 30 mph relative to a pedestrian. He said O’Hara would ask residents to stand on the side of the road while a he drove by at exactly 30 mph.
“If you’re standing on the edge of the road and a Crown Vic goes by at 30 mph, you might as well be at NASCAR, you’re not getting out of the way,” said McCarthy.
Kudos to Councilor McCarthy for helping push this walkability initiative.
See also this video of the City Council’s Government Operations committee hearing on the initiative from last week.
We should remember that setting a safer speed limit is only a starting point. Most drivers will follow road design more than posted limits, so the ultimate solution must involve safer road design including narrower car lanes and other traffic calming measures (all key aspects of Vision Zero). A recent letter to the editor in the Boston Globe makes this same point. But we need not let these broader infrastructure challenges get in the way of a common-sense first step.
Breaking news (4/27/16 afternoon): From City Councillor Michelle Wu‘s summary of today’s city council meeting:
Speed Limits: We voted unanimously to pass Councilor Baker’s home rule petition to lower the default unposted speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in thickly settled areas and business districts and from 20mph to 15mph in school zones, as well as giving the City the authority to post speed limits without state approval and the requirement for a traffic study. Councilors Baker and Flaherty noted that speeding is one of the top issues councilors hear from residents. The matter now goes to the Mayor for his signature and then the state legislature for approval.