REMINDER: Call to Action – Standouts to Promote New 25 mph Citywide Speed Limit – March 4, 11, 18, & 25

REMINDER: Despite the cold temps forecast, we are going to stick with our first standout tomorrow morning, March 4, 2017 @ 11 am, at Washington & Cummins in Roslindale Square (Adams Park side of Washington). Bundle up and come on down!

Motivated by the common sense concept that slower vehicle speeds lead to safer streets, Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Walsh, recently exercised its local option to reduce the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph as of January 9.  To draw attention to and increase awareness of this important change, WalkUP Roslindale will be organizing 60-minute standouts with hand-held signs around our neighborhood on each of the next 4 Saturdays.

Each standout will start at 11 am and end at 12 pm. The locations are as follows:

March 4 – Roslindale Square (meet on Adams Park side of Cummins/Washington)

March 11 – 5-way American Legion/Canterbury/Cummins (meet by the fire station)

March 18 – Walter/South (meet by Green T)

March 25 – Washington at WR Parkway (meet by the Dunkin Donuts)

We have secured a baker’s dozen signs from Councilor O’Malley (many thanks!), but it would be also be terrific for those interested in participating to bring your own homemade signs promoting the change as well. Thanks!!

Roslindale Bulletin on 20 MPH City Speed Limit

City Speed Limit could Fall to 20mph

Roslindale Bulletin: City Speed Limit could Fall to 20mph

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.

We can learn a couple of things from New York

Going in reverse order from when these things came over the transom:

POINT THE FIRST

“25 keeps us all alive!” — To be clear, I do not believe this is really the slogan, but I was in New York over the past weekend and snapped this picture:

IMAG0008

You’re reading the sign right. New York has had a city-wide 25 mph speed limit for more than a year now. The world has not ended and their economy has not crashed, but traffic fatalities of all kinds of down year over year: 241 this year against 269 last year. The new Boston Vision Zero Action Plan is finally pointing us in this direction. But let’s be honest: it is long, long past time for our city to take the same kind of step — let’s make 2016 the year it happens.

POINT THE SECOND

Why 9 or 10 is better than 12. I commend to everyone the following article from Rob Steuteville over at Better Cities & Towns about how the humble Williamsburg Bridge’s rehabilitation back during your correspondent’s youthful years in the big city led to some of the first research into why narrower vehicle travel lanes are safer than wider ones. Worth a read: The New Science of Traffic Engineering. Challenging a misguided orthodoxy only sticks when you gather the data to show why that orthodoxy is wrong.