Lower speed limits?

At the request of safety advocates and the city of Boston, and working with other senators, I added language to the Senate version of the recent municipal modernization bill that will give municipalities more flexibility to set lower speed limits.

Currently, under state law, vehicles may not be driven above speeds that are “reasonable and proper”, depending on conditions. The maximum “reasonable and proper” speed under ideal conditions in thickly settled areas is 30 miles per hour. All of my district is “thickly settled” — having houses closer together than 200 feet. Municipalities can set lower limits in school zones, but do not have general flexibility to set lower limits.

To set a lower limit (or higher limit) under current law, a municipality must go through an arduous procedure to establish the “85th percentile speed” based on actual speed studies. In other words, the town must do expensive traffic monitoring to compute the speed at or below which 85% of the vehicles are actually operating on the particular road segment. On some roads, this creates real risk that an effort to lower speed limits could end up increasing speed limits. It is very consistent with the spirit of the municipal modernization bill to make it easier for municipalities to lower limits without so much red tape.

The new language would give municipal authorities — the selectmen, or in a city, the traffic director — authority to set 25 mile per hour limits in thickly settled zones without further approval. They would also be able to lower the limit to 20 miles per hour in selected safety zones. The new powers would take effect only upon a vote of the municipality’s legislative body — the town meeting or town/city council.

From a safety standpoint, there is no question that lower speeds are desirable. In congested areas, the probability of collision goes up with higher speeds. Also, the severity of injuries from collisions goes up dramatically with speed.

The practical question is: how can we actually change the speed of vehicles? All of my experience as a driver and as someone involved in setting speed limits is that people drive at the speed they feel comfortable. That varies according to mood and road conditions and, of great importance, according to road design. Long straightaways with wide lanes, especially with green lights visible ahead, induce drivers to accelerate to unreasonable speeds. This is spectacularly exemplified by Beacon Street in Boston where cars routinely exceed 50 miles an hour in a very dense area.

I believe that, in areas where motorists tend to drive too fast, the solution is traffic calming road redesign. If motorists are driving 50 in a 30 mile per hour zone, they will likely continue to drive 50 in a 25 mile per hour zone.

I also share reservations that if local authorities can set lower speed limits with no oversight, they will create speed traps and/or set unreasonably low speeds in response to campaigns by well-organized neighborhoods which will divert traffic into neighborhoods who are less well-organized. I have thought of the state department of transportation as the guardian of fair uniformity in the setting of speed limits.

All of that said, road redesign is slow and expensive, and safety is an urgent priority. I was ultimately persuaded by MassDOT’s decision to endorse the language and was pleased to push for its adoption.

Through the efforts of Representatives Hecht, Livingstone, Provost and others, the language was also included in the House draft and is therefore likely to become law. Local authorities will have to make the ultimate choices within the new more flexible rules.

Response from WB on July 19

Great set of comments here — thanks to all for weighing in. A clear divergence of opinion. One commenter pointed out that many are concerned that lower limits will lead to over-enforcement, while many are concerned that we do not have enough enforcement now. One commenter worried that local authorities would not use sound engineering in their decision-making. I’m not too concerned about that — most towns do have access to and do use professional traffic engineers in their major decisions. At the end of the day, I’m comfortable with the idea of devolving this decision-making to a more local level — local authorities will be able to consider the many good arguments and options raised here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

164 replies on “Lower speed limits?”

  1. I support this measure. Even if many motorists will not follow the new rules, it will allow police new ticketing power to enforce the rules. I fully support Vision Zero, and this seems a great start to lower injuries ad deaths among pedestrians and bike riders.

  2. I am strongly in support of this measure. I have asked for lower speed limits or better stop sign markings in my neighborhood several times via 311. It is an extremely dangerous cut-through street where many schoolchildren are, as well as next to a T-stop where many pedestrians cross. I get no response from Boston or vague promises about doing a speed study. Meanwhile, I have seen many people almost get hit. Lower speed limits save lives. We can all slow down a bit. I support making it easier for municipalities to PROTECT THEIR CONSTITUENTS FROM DANGEROUS, SPEEDY DRIVERS.

  3. I think a more effective way to slow down traffic is with raised roads. I’ve seen how this slows traffic very well on Waverly St in Watertown(as people use to fly down that road past the Middle school which was even slower than the regular speed limit…did not help..until the raised roads!
    It may help but on side streets where many kids are is a big speeding problem..the speed limit is 25 and many go 35-40mph…so I’m doubtful this will help in those situations.

  4. As an example of how it could pan out we can take a look at Vision Zero and how it’s been implemented in NYC. In Staten Island twice as many tickets have been issued and the island is now blanketed by speed cameras. Yet, in 2015, the number of traffic accidents doubled vs. 2014. All road users need to be responsible including cyclists and pedestrians. I see regularly see cyclists blow through lights, plow down sidewalks despite bike lanes and pedestrians walking right into the street without looking because their eyes are fixated on their phones. If we enact laws that basically make cyclists and pedestrians judgment proof and it’s always the driver’s fault, more accidents are going to happen. While we can all agree on no road fatalities as a goal, not making all stakeholders responsible could actually increase the accident rate. I’m just concerned that this amendment won’t save lives, create more traffic and become another revenue source. Also along with Vision zero I read about the new bike lanes that will be installed on Beacon st. I think we should have bikes get license plates and pay registration fees just like cars do to offset the cost. It also makes bikes more accountable vs. just riding off after causing accidents / running over pedestrians on sidewalks despite bike lanes.

    1. Agree; just drive through Cambridge any day & watch out of control cyclists cutting off autos, intimadating pedestrians on sidewalks & in cross walks all while offering a universal gesture—-there is no traffic enforcement over cyclists or pedestrians at all in this Senate District!

  5. Will,

    I agree with your concerns about this proposed legislation. Posted speed limits are far less effective in controlling actual drivers’ behavior than traffic calming construction of roadways. If there are compelling safety concerns by towns, they should be willing to invest in genuinely-effective measures, not superficial speed-limit signage.

  6. I am opposed to more restrictive laws that will be ineffective. I’ll still be driving 35 on wide open good visibility stretches of Belmont and Concord avenues and 20 on streets like Horace when there are cars parked on both sides.

    The main result of a 25 limit would be that when a speeding ticket is issued, the fine will be for x+5 mph over the limit rather than x mph over the limit.

    Sorry to say Will, I think your conclusion is not logically consistent with the facts you present.

  7. There is a tradeoff between the costs and benefits of speed vs safety. 30 mph is slow enough. Enforce it.

  8. Thank you, this is an important step.

    Another reason alludes to your point about design. Right now, engineers must design streets to a 30 mph standard, and usually they make provision for drivers exceeding the speed limit as well. The problem is that designing for higher speeds means that you will get higher speeds, as you rightly point out.

    Having the legal authority to set lower speed limits means that engineers can now design streets with lower design speeds, thus giving the desired result of safer streets in a natural way.

    An additional step would be to recommend a policy, somehow, that engineers not choose road design parameters that encourage speeds above the limit. The reason that transport engineers even do that today is a misguided application of the notion of “margins of error”: making it safe for the drivers to go too fast will make the street unsafe for everyone else. Consideration of vulnerable road users has almost always been the missing piece of the puzzle.

  9. I would like to see it mandated in “traffic calming zones” (you know the speed bumps integrated with cross walks, bump-outs. I think speed limit should be conspicuously posted in these zones.

  10. I think this is a great idea, thank you Will! Some of the streets in my East Fenway neighborhood are full of pedestrians, speeds should really be no higher than 20 mph on quite a few of them. I also support raised crosswalks. They are smoother for pedestrians, increase visibility, and slow down cars. Curb cuts all too easily turn into disasters, with pooling water, not leveling with the street surface, etc.

  11. I believe any action that will slow traffic down is positive. There are many thickly settled areas where people are routinely driving 45- 50 mph in all conditions. Behavior also includes passing on the right and swinging pass cars stopped for pedestrians. If we give towns the right to adjust speed limits to 25 mph the police can stop people and fines can be raised. Cameras that can monitor speed and issues tickets automatically can be used a they do in Europe ( within cities and dangerous sections of Highways ). They are quite effective. Eventually with adequate fines people will begin to drive slower.

  12. The points above are good ones. Control of speed is a factor of enforcement NOT more stringent speed limits. Speeding fines in many communities are revenue enhancement measures NOT traffic safety measures. I think letting communities set limits below 30 is unnecessary & government micromanagement at its worst. You are totally correct that if someone drives 50 in a 30 zone then they will if it is set at 25 as well. Plus lower speeds increase congestion & adds additional pollutants to the air. I’m strongly opposed to the amendment! TY, Jerry Kelley

  13. This almost sounds like legislation drawn up to increase revenue. I agree with your assertion that people will continue to drive at the speeds at which they feel comfortable. This legislation seems like it will lower the speed threshold for the Police to issue tickets, but not achieve much else.

    1. Absolutely! It is ridiculous that while police reform is such a hot topic we’re broadening a widely known governmental scam that uses police as revenue collectors.

      We’re concerned about whether Driving While Black is a real offense–so let’s lower speed limits more? Our major crisis is stopping the worst representatives of the people and the police from killing each other, so let’s force more needless police encounters?

      This is crazy.

  14. I oppose this, and agree with you that a better solution will be road design. Traffic-calming road features are much harder for drivers to ignore than posted speeds, and we all know perfectly well that people who speed will continue to do so unless it physically becomes more difficult.

  15. No! I can’t agree with this at all. This will lead to less safety on the roads, because not only will drivers be driving at the same speeds they feel are reasonable, but they’ll also be splitting their attention between the road (traffic, pedestrians, etc.) and scanning for police! I think the 85% rule is an excellent indication of speeds that work for a particular road.
    Cars and drivers are getting squeezed more and more with so much emphasis on biking (even though a fraction of people are actually biking). Add in year-round construction (winter used to provide a respite, but no more) and my drives will go from bad to worse. And no, biking is not an option for me!

  16. Will, there is nothing arduous about 8th percentile studies.

    They are the basis for setting speed limits throughout the world.

    It’s a known fact that SLOWER IS NOT SAFER!


    The reason for the 85th percentile study is to clearly establish that the speed limit works in the location. What you are doing is taking the decision out of qualified hands (highway engineers) and giving it to someone who’s got a vested interest in unreasonably low speed limits (cash strapped municipalities)

    This is how the classic southern “speed trap” towns stay in business.

    This must not become law!

    Setting lower speed limits where appropriate is fine, but KEEP THE 85h Percentile requirement!

    Moreover – let qualified engineers handle this, not hack politicians out for a quick buck!

  17. I support this measure. it is not the final solution, but it is a start and we need to start

  18. Like you, sir, I bike in the city, and would welcome the opportunity to advocate, locally, for lower speed limits in some places.
    Overall, however my thinking is that municipalities should make their own rules whenever possible. Just as a Senator form Western MA shouldn’t be making choices for Brighton, a Senator from Belmont shouldn’t be making choices for Lee, MA. So yes, vote for local control.

  19. I like this law. I live on Slade St and cut-through speeders are a problem.

  20. As a cyclist, pedestrian and driver living in Cambridge, I find that cars are already slowing down.

    I am all for making adding this language so it is easier to respond to the realities on the street. Mass Ave in North Cambridge is another speedway. The roads are at capacity, or over much of the time, and drivers get both frantic and seem to have a sense of owning the road. Hard for them to even slow down in pedestrian walkways at times.

    We need to reclaim our streets and cities as places where people live, walk, cycle and drive. We still have a sense that driving is the king and the rest of uses are way down at the bottom of the pile.

    It is dangerous and stressful for all of us. Slower speeds in the city will help us all.

  21. I would be concerned about lowering speed limits because it will make traffic congestion worse. I do agree with the premise that less accidents and less harmful accidents happen at slower speeds. Therefore, I would be more in favor of keeping the current limits, but increasing the enforcement via electronic means. That would involve some capital costs, but would provide 24×7 monitoring and fining and not much additional police costs.

    Route 2 going out to Concord is a good example. The speed limit, I think, is 45 through Lexington, but everyone drives at least 60. Theoretically, the speed limit could be lowered to 40, but the cars will still drive 60+. Raising that limit to 50 with strict electronic enforcement would be a better alternative.

  22. Agree with all of these points. Raised intersections and crosswalks and other pedestrian visibility and traffic calming measures are needed. People get struck in crosswalks all the time by vehicles traveling at “safe” speeds. People trying to cross the street also need a safe and visible place to stand while waiting.

  23. Whatever the speed limit on Beacon St, unless it is enforced by police and drivers who exceed the speed limit are ticketed, it will not make any difference what the speed is.

  24. Vision Zero has proposed a 25 mph limit on Mass Ave from the Charles to Boston Medical Hosp. to reduce the number of car-bike-pedestrian crashes.

    They also want the detected-speed posted, traffic light timing changed so as not to encourage speeding and enforcement on drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

    I support their efforts. There are close calls daily or even hourly.

  25. I cannot support this. Living in Back Bay I know the reason there are issues on Beacon St is because the current speed limits ARE NOT being enforced! Passing a law will NOT help. The police need to crack down on BU kids screaming down at 60mph through Back Bay and all the stupid loud Harley riders racing through a residential neighborhood. They don’t even live there! Start with enforcement, not more stupid govt. laws!

  26. I think this is a bad idea. It will not actually lead to people driving slower, but will just make more people into lawbreakers more of the time. People already don’t comply with speed limits, so until/unless we can enforce 30 mph limits, what’s the value of lowering them to 25 mph. The current process of requiring traffic studies to demonstrate the value of lowering speeds is better than having a town meeting or council simply decide they think a lower speed is “safer”. Where’s the data for that?

    Traffic calming measures are another story altogether. Let’s make roadways safer and design them for better sharing among cars, bikes and pedestrians. But’s not make even more drivers illegal more of the time by simply changing the speed limit signs.

  27. What is really needed are more distinctions than just “thickly settled areas” in determining local speed limits. For example, a one-way street that is parked on both sides with a relatively narrow travel lane (like many Cambridge streets) should be declared a “neighborhood street” (or something like that), and it should have a speed limit of no more than 20-25 mph. There are other streets that by their very geometry should also be put in this category without having to carry out a detailed traffic study to justify the reduced speed. This should be established statewide. The 30 mph standard is still perfectly fine for many streets. All of Cambridge is “thickly settled”, but not all roads in Cambridge can safely accommodate the same speeds.



  29. As a car-free pedestrian, I welcome lower speed limits. During the oil crisis of 1979 drivers learned to adapt to a 55-mph speed limit on highways.

  30. It seems to me that if there are roads where drivers speed at 50 in a 25 zone, then it is not the speed limit that is the issue but the design of the road.

    Does the bill make it easier for municipalities to install traffic calming measures?

    Shouldn’t the real outcome of a speed analysis where the 85% is above the current speed limit be a trigger to add appropriate features to the road to reduce those speeds?

  31. Sounds good, Will. I love the idea of slowing things down. I agree with comments on enforcement but allowing communities to do their own thing with less red tape has appeal.

  32. As both a pedestrian and a driver, I believe that lower speed limits are not necessary. In fact, the added congestion seems to contribute to driver frustration and pedestrian confusion. Letting traffic flow naturally allows drivers to maintain reasonable progress and signals to pedestrians to cross at lights and crosswalks. As congestion grows drivers become preoccupied with “beating” other drivers and pedestrians often cross roads in the middle of traffic. I think enforcing limits as they are is more than reasonable. And enforcing pedestrian laws as well! If you drive around Boston U, you know what I mean. Lowering the limits will become yet another revenue stream for cities and towns. I disagree with this measure altogether.

  33. Will-
    I never drive slower than 30 mph
    It would cause accidents
    bad idea – try speed bumps

  34. Great more revenue enhancement ! I can see it now , have dinner in Belmont center with 2 or 3 glasses of wine . Drive through Cushing square get pulled over for doing 30 and low and behold , that speeding violation becomes an oui . (I smell alcohol ) ?. No licence for 6 months and 10 g in legal fees for first time offense . Look if the lower than 30 is pronounced with lit numbers , no problem .

    1. Well, then you can stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere via car and walk, bicycle or take public transportation! Think of the health benefits.

  35. This is absolutely a GREAT proposal!!! I live in the Fenway and often see traffic going a far greater speeds than I am sure Boston would like to limit to less MPH. Most buildings in this area are apartments or Condos and include students, either living or entering Fenway for schools, people of greater age and thus slow in walking. And we have many pedestrians going to local stores,such as CVS,Target, Star, Marshall’s,and restaurants etc. So allowing Boston to reign in speedy drivers would be a lifesaver!

  36. I agree with the bill that the that the municipalities should have greater latitude in setting their speed limits, without too much hassle, since they know their neighborhoods best.

  37. The effect is that all municipalities will set a 25 mph speed limit on roads traveled by out-of-town commuters … Who, in turn, will continue to drive 35 and 45 mph, etc.

    I think a much better approach is to keep speed limits as they are, but allow the municipalities to install video cameras to enforce speed limits. The result would be that speed limits remain, say, 35 mph, but enforcement can ensure the limits are strictly enforced.

    To have very low speed limits posted with people being used to drive fast is an invitation to abuse and to cherry-picking by the local police.

  38. I think that in residential neighborhoods 25 is a more reasonable speed limit, if a town want it and posts the new limits. Actually, I thought that years ago it was 20 and that it changes to 30, which is too high. No wonder one never sees kids playing in the streets anymore.

    In contrast, I think the speed limit on Mill Street should be raised, at least to 35. Cars travel that fast and faster. And should be able to according to the law.

  39. Right on – thank you Sen Brownsberger for pushing this change through. As an urban bicyclist for 45 years i am constantly horrified at how fast too many people drive.

  40. I’m certainly in favor of this ruling and as I understand it; there will be choices available to change speed limits without further approval. I live in Brighton and I asked my councilman to address this issue of speed on Kenrick St. After looking into the traffic flow they (Traffic Dept.) agreed to post “thickly settled area” signs in several locations. As of today there has been no change. Cars come zooming down from Newton in the AM and zooming back in the PM. With so many cars parked here driving on the street is kind of scary. One has to squeeze by to get through safely.Last year my parked car was rear ended. 30 mph is ok when driving on a wider road or street but it’s just too fast on this one.

  41. Thank you, Will! I live in the Back Bay and strongly support setting lower speed limits. I also strongly support the redesign efforts of Vision Zero.

  42. All this goes back to zoning and the high density we are seeing with the lack of coordination between zoning and school budgets being busted etc etc. Too many single houses being torn down and multi families going up in their place, or multiple homes on the same plot. We really should have larger set backs.

  43. Is there any broad idea on the costs of enacting this (signage, etc)? It seems very unclear that there would be a reasonable return in safety. Legislating often doesn’t the desired effect, and indeed creates negative unintended consequences. I can tell from the comments there are many non-drivers supporting lowered limits that perhaps have never tried to drive from one end of town to the other at speeds slower than 30 MPH. This seems like a well intentioned boondoggle, that will only serve to syphon more money from motorists, and is likely to lead to more unnecessarily escalated police / motorist encounters.

  44. Please vote yes. I was a co-sponsor of a Cambridge City Council policy order that supports this bill. Cambridge is also adding traffic calming elements to our streets. With apps like Waze sending more cars on residential streets to avoid congestion it’s important for us to be able to enforce appropriate speeds.

  45. Thanks, Will. I think it’s a good section of the bill.
    I’m disappointed at the knee-jerk, “I’m too good for speed limits” attitude in some of the comments. This does not set speed limits, but simply gives municipalities the power to do that. They know their own roads better than the state. The power would go with the legislative body – in Belmont, if you can get a speed limit change on selected roads through Town Meeting, it’s probably not a bad idea. (and for my fellow Town Meeting members, these could be some painful discussions)

  46. If it is not enforced, why go to the great lengths to create and enact new legislation. I’ve been passed on School Street and Grove Street in Belmont. Trying to enter Grove street at rush hour is nearly impossible. The traffic calming at the intersection of Grove and Washington seems to incur wrathful driving on that Grove Street straight-away. Why not enforce the speed limits that are in place? I’m in favor of lowering the speed lime and traffic calming, but nothing is more effective than a squad car that is clearly visible, or even better, a couple of cars pulled over by our men in blue!

  47. Before jumping on a bandwagon going 25 MPH, let’s look at the alternatives and whether they work. How many years and millions of dollars has it taken to rebuild Trapelo Road to calm its traffic? I can’t imagine how much time and resources it would take to do that all along other arteries, much less side streets.

    So now that Trapelo is pretty much done, how about conducting a traffic study to see if in fact any calming has taken place? Are drivers slowing down and being less aggressive? Has the accident rate gone down? Do cyclists seem to be safer and happy with the results?

    Clearly the 25 MPH option is a way to calm traffic on the cheap that probably won’t work very well. But if the alternative is multi-million multi-year construction projects, the potential for local abuse strikes me as a lesser municipal evil.

    A 25 MPH limit is of no consequence for cyclists. If there were fewer motorists and more cyclists, we’d reduce carbon, become fitter, get where we’re going faster, and everyone would be happier.

    1. The test of Trapelo is not just whether the road is ‘calmer’. It is also whether all the obstructions that have been built into the road lengthen commute times and encourage motorists to find shortcuts via residential streets. With apps like Ways it is increasingly easier to do so and my sense is that side street traffic has been growing rapidly in the last several years. Traffic calming might well have pretty negative unintended consequences!

  48. Thanks Will. You have spent time listening and thinking about this issue. Traffic calming will be a great help but will take time, and money. Getting this legislation thru will take time and little or no money. Both need to be priorities for residential neighborhoods that are now being used as major thoroughfares like Beacon St. People walk to work, walk their children to school, walk to shop, and walk to church in the city. We need to be able to do that normal activity safely. Thank you so much for your support of our neighborhoods.

  49. This is a very bad idea. Please renounce it.

    The 85th percentile is based on actual data and leads to reasonable decisions. Scientific evidence must be the basis of how these decisions should be made, certainly not the whim of local town officials.

    Putting these decisions in the hands of municipalities is certain to have one effect: just to increase their revenues by handing out tickets, towns will definitely lower speed limits to levels that reasonable drivers will exceed.

    Drivers will be subject to medieval tolls each time they will pass through some towns (Watertown is already like that), their insurance premiums will increase, and some will be unable to go to work for lack of good public transportation.

    If you want a better idea, here is one: forbid left turns at intersections wherever possible. That will suppress head-front collisions and minimize pollution and wasted hours due to people who wait forever to make a left turn. Many towns in CA and elsewhere have done that and it works very well. Why not in Boston and other busy cities?

    Also, why not tax Uber drivers? They are forever hogging the left lane on highways and driving below posted speed limits, slowing down traffic because they fear that Uber will not send them more work if they so much as attain the speed limit.

    1. Alan – Will cited the problem on Beacon St. in the Back Bay. We’ve had three pedestrian fatalities there in the last two years because of speeders. Beacon St. passes the 85% test, but the speeding problem remains. The test may be data-driven, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

  50. I totally approve of this measure. I live both on a rural road in the cape and in the south end in Boston. In these very different areas, the speed limit is not adequate or adequately enforced.

    In Boston, I frequently see cars sprinting down Columbus Ave and down Tremont st.at press of up to 40 mph. There are many people and their children / dogs out on the streets trying to negotiate or guess if they are safe entering a cross walk. There is no excuse for this and a strict 20 mph limit in these areas would make a world of difference.

    On the cape, the speed limit on my road – which has a public beach and boat ramp on it – is posted at 30-35 mph. Yet, cars always go by my house at 50+ only to slam on their breaks when they come to the congestion at the beach.

    Please support this legislation.

  51. Allowing municipalities to set appropriate speed limits without too much red tape makes sense. Even though there are many people who ignore speed limits, there are also a lot who obey them, or at least take them into consideration. If I see a 25 mph sign I do proceed more cautiously. Thanks for your thoughtful position on this.

  52. I think it is a good idea. I live in Watertown which has alot of blind and physically disabled people who would benefit from such a limit.

  53. Please Will, enough traffic calming. What you need is more police on the roads. Municipal police. When I hear a motorcycle going at top speed and noise near my house, I wonder where the traffic cops are. Traffic is so congested everywhere that reducing the speed limit is laughable.

  54. I do not approve of lowering speed limits in Belmont. I also do not approve of the road redesigns in Belmont which I find inconvenient and distracting. I consider them a waste of public funds, and a nuisance for drivers. They increase the frustration level for drivers, which actually might make drivers want to be more aggressive, and thus do harm. I find them stressful and regrettable and ugly. Dealing with impaired driver alertness through strict punishments for texting or phone use while driving, for driving under the influence, etc., seem to me to be more rational because they attach penalties to people who are endangering others, rather than the responsible driving public in general. I really consider the new designs exceptionally ugly and wasteful.

  55. Will, thank you for your thoughtful reasoning. I agree with you and feel strongly this measure has worthwhile safety benefits and that local authorities should be able to make the ultimate choices within the new more flexible rules. I am a bicyclist, pedestrian, motorist and transit user, and serve on relevant town committees which support this measure.

  56. Sorry if this is tangential, but in my opinion ‘traffic calming’ tends to be too broadly defined. The goal of traffic engineers should surely be to ensure a smooth flow of traffic of all sorts, including cars, cycles, and pedestrians. Synchronizing traffic lights, for example, can tend to make cars’ speeds converge within a fairly narrow range, at least for habitual drivers, while ensuring that pedestrians have predictable opportunities to cross the street. A frustrated or distracted driver can still run down a pedestrian while driving at a speed of 25 mph (I have been almost hit in crosswalks by cars lurching forward while drivers were texting); a calm driver in a discrete flow of cars travelling at 33 mph is in contrast a much less frightening prospect. Alas, I have little confidence that every municipality would invest in the resources necessary to produce optimal traffic flows.

  57. Lower speed limits = more opportunities for police to stop cars and to pull over minorities, all resulting in more traffic backups.

  58. Hi Will,
    I still enjoy hearing from you. I live on a very crowded street, Fairmont, in E. Arlington, and it’s a speedway for drivers trying to avoid a light on street ahead, at Thorndike. Besides children and adults, there is a fair amount of wildlife crossing this street. I have tried before to have the limits lowered, with the Mass. Ave redesign there is more cut though traffic. I don’t think traffic calming would work on a short street like Fairmont, but lower limits would at the very least tell people to slow down, and if we had some monitoring speed signs up maybe we’d have a safer street.
    Thanks, and best regards,

  59. Will, During peak traffic hours there
    are often 80 drivers per hour running
    red lights at the intersection of
    Belmont St. @ Grove St. and I have never
    seen anyone pulled over. Good luck with
    the speeding tickets!

  60. There is a law on the books in MA
    forbidding idling cars etc. for more
    tha 5 minutes. This law is routinely ignored. Speed laws probably would be too unless enforced aggressively.
    This said, I do favor giving municipalities the flexibility to set limits without the need for a long and arduous process.

  61. How about making speed limits apply to all vehicles by removing the word “motor” in both speed limit laws and also in the language on appealing tickets. Every vehicle should observe the “reasonable and proper” basic law.

    “Motor” also needs to be removed from the vehicular homicide law.

  62. I don’t support the proposed amendments.

    Cities often have unreasonably low speed limits in too many places. Requiring data to support lowering speed limits makes sense to me vs knee jerk reactions to unfortunate accidents.

    Proper road design work is required and allowing artificially low speed limits to be used instead of the redesign work is not appropriate.

  63. Will, I support this.

    I do think there is a risk of speed traps and selective enforcement. If it were up to me, I’d also support automated (camera) enforcement with small-but-escalating fines (e.g., $10 for the first in 12 months, then $20, $40, $80, $160, with a maximum of $320, paid by the owner of the car).

    Can we get truck side guards next? If there’s issues with differing standards between states, maybe use side guards (or their lack) to determine which trucks are allowed in “thickly settled” areas (e.g., Boston).

  64. Please support this bill.
    The Commonwealth is not the place for these decisions. They lack local knowledge that municipalities naturally have.
    Moreover a municipality is more likely to be responsive to citizens’ voices than the Commonwealth. Lower speeds are safer, damage neighborhood quality of life less and create less pollution.
    We are approaching, and in some cases have reached our cities capacity to accommodate the automobile. Reducing sped is a first good step, not o Ly for the reasons above, but also to encourage better public transportation.

  65. IF you post about this again, Will, could you add some data about the rate and severity of accidents. Thank you.

  66. You have already stated the reasons not to change. We need consistency in limits across the state and a cool hand in approving exceptions. We don’t need 5 million traffic engineers.

    Keep it at state level.

    G Burnell, former Selectman

    1. A cool hand? What’s the harm? I really don’t think local governments – who know their area better than the state – are going to go crazy, with say 5 mph limits or anything unworkable. We’re talking about areas that are 30mph now, and so already fairly slow. So there’s nothing really being lost, and even if only a little safety to be gained. It’s a commonsense, home-rule measure.

  67. I very much support this measure. That said, many comments here seem to miss an important point: the legislation does not lower speed limits; it only allows municipalities to lower speed limits. In other words, it devolves some authority in this matter to localities. The time for discussing what the limits should actually be will come later, should the language become law. That discussion will take place exactly where it should: among the citizens of municipalities who are most affected by regulations in question.

    1. You should really read the proposal. If you believe uninformed politicians motivated by local concerns (and cash shortages) are better arbitrators than people who have trained for years and dedicated their lives to this… well.. I guess you will get what you deserve.

      If you think you’ll have a say in which limits get reset… guess again…

      Personally, I trust science over voodoo and will go with the traffic engineers every time.

  68. Will, I can’t tell if your proposal is more conservative than the home rule petition passed by the Boston City Council. As you know, we testified in support of the Council’s petition, hoping that it would be an additional element to calm traffic on Beacon Street in the Back Bay. I don’t agree with you that people will drive at whatever speed makes them comfortable and ignore speed limits. People react to speed limits. Why do people slow down passing a school with a 20-mile limit? A 20-mile per hour limit on Beacon St. would slow traffic. How does your Senate bill compare with the City Council’s?

    1. I believe people slow down near schools at various times of day/year. I do not agree that they slow down near schools in the evenings well after school has ended nor in the summer months.

      That said, I disagree that people are obeying the speed limit, but rather simply applying a little common sense. Sorry, but a new, unreasonably slow limit on Beacon Street is not going to slow locals…

      1. They don’t slow down in the evening because the 20 MPH limit doesn’t apply then.

  69. I don’t get it. WB, you make several well reasoned arguments against the proposal but then say in the end i was persuaded by massdot endorsing. Huh? Why did massdot endorse? I don’t see how any of your arguments against are defeated.

  70. Will, I support this.

    I really can’t think of a reasonable excuse why not, other than some people want to go fast. What’s the harm? And it might actually work, if only in spots.

    I’m going to trust that local communities won’t go crazy with this, but use it where it makes sense – in side streets where cars shouldn’t be going fast anyway.

    A prime example of the need for a lower speed AND easier ways to enact traffic management is around Payson and Oakley in Belmont. There’s no reason that shouldn’t be a 4-way stop at the very least. Instead we have a “hack” using bright flags that children can use, to try to be seen by the cars careening down Oakley.

    Keep up the good work here.

  71. Having recently been hit by a car turning left off of Belmont Street onto Sycamore in Watertown, I am in favor of also be able to lower the limit to 20 miles per hour in selected safety zones.

    I believe the car that hit me was trying to move quickly across speeding oncoming traffic.

    While you may be right that “if motorists are driving 50 in a 30 mile per hour zone, they will likely continue to drive 50 in a 25 mile per hour zone” I think it is still important to have lowered speeds in effect. While “traffic calming road redesign” is great, it is expensive and I’m not sure what it actually is. Do you mean speed bumps? I find it hard to imagine people putting up with those being implemented on Belmont Street. But something does need to be done to slow the traffic that races down it.

  72. Having recently been hit by a car turning left off of Belmont Street onto Sycamore in Watertown, I am in favor of being able lower the limit to 20 miles per hour in selected safety zones.

    I believe the car that hit me was trying to move quickly across speeding oncoming traffic.

    While you may be right that “if motorists are driving 50 in a 30 mile per hour zone, they will likely continue to drive 50 in a 25 mile per hour zone” I think it is still important to have lowered speeds in effect. While “traffic calming road redesign” is great, it is expensive and I’m not sure what it actually is. Do you mean speed bumps? I find it hard to imagine people putting up with those being implemented on Belmont Street. But something does need to be done to slow the traffic that races down it.

  73. Reallocation of the fixed street space to bus lanes should be a part of the design for traffic calming.

    If streets and parkways are full during rush hours, do we begin to reallocate street space, at least during commuting hours, to buses and commuter vans, public and private? Faster, more reliable bus service can attract more commuters to the bus capacity, now jammed in traffic.

    Without footnotes, we assert:
    1) Full: The rush hours are getting longer and slower,
    2) Full: The commuters are expected to increase 10-20% or more in the next two decades, especially in Cambridge and its neighboring communities.
    3) There does not exist an analysis of alternative ways and costs, to increase capacity of the Red Line.
    4) Such investment typically takes multiple decades to put in place.
    5) The Commonwealth, and certainly this governor, pledges no new taxes or fees.

  74. Yes, allow municipalities to lower the speed limit. Specifically, DCR should lower the speed limit through the residential area of Fresh Pond Parkway.

  75. I firmly believe that lowering speed limit to 25 from 30 mph has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with creating speed traps and extra revenue for the given municipality.

    Reinforce current speed limits if the safety is a concern!

  76. Good idea to allow towns flexibility in setting speed limits. In Cambridge we have 25mph in certain areas which makes it safer for children, pedestrians and cyclists.

  77. Thank you. I agree with the thoughts you have wrote.

    Even if this increases speed traps and just works to give municipalities income, in the long run, I think it is helpful for when the roads do eventually become reworked.

  78. I’m not in favor of this. I doubt it will do much for safety, and I’m sure it will result in confusing rules and speed traps. It’s frustrating to drive here already; why allow cities and towns to make it capricious and confusing, too?

  79. Hi Will,
    Several of your concerns were mine also. Especially setting speed traps by changing the speed limit over short distances several times. Is it necessary? How will it be enforced? Have there been that many incidents of injury or damage? Will anyone pay attention to the changes?
    Good luck with trying to change the driving habits of people who regularly use certain routes!

  80. I am in favor of this. I am professional pedestrian. I cannot drive. If speed limits were below 30 miles per hour maybe more drivers would be able to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Cities and towns know where areas a re more densely populated and where traffic needs to be controlled better than the State.

  81. I live on Beacon St in Back Bay, bike to work, and disagree with changing the speed limit. It was great to see a cop sitting on Beacon St for a few weeks after the drag racing incident and people slowed down. As soon as the enforcement stopped, speeds increased. Reducing the speed limit from 30 to 25 will not cause people to slow down.

  82. It is true that speed kills. The problem is not only speed but driver attitude and ability. I have seen many drivers ignore police or fire engine lights and sirens, going through red lights and stop signs, and very aggressive driving.

  83. Will – let me ask you this — if you were vomiting, high fever, headache, broken leg, would you just take the course of least resistance and go to the CVS for an aspirin?

    Likely not. You’d see an expert.

    So why do you think that cutting out the experts (traffic engineers) makes sense in a life and death situation like speed limit setting? I know you have an engineering background so I’m very surprised you’re willing to cut out the engineers from important decisions.

    Studies have clearly shown that setting speed limits without regards to traffic studies is dangerous and leads to increased accidents, injuries and death.

    Just because vested interests in Boston want to go down this route, there’s no reason for us to follow down this dangerous path.

    Please reject this misguided “quick fix mentality” and spend your time workign for real solutions to our problems.

    BTW, read through the link you posted for the traffic study. (https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/traffic/speedZoning_0512.pdf) It requires an engineer (who’s already doing this job) to spend about an hour on the road you want to reset.There’s perhaps another hour of follow-up work he needs to do. How is this in any way “arduous”? (except, of course, it’s “arduous” for a politician to have to ask permission?)

  84. Yes, to me the freedom to set lower speed limits is an invitation for local municipalities to set unreasonably slow speeds and ultimately speeding traps.

    I do not believe lowering speed limits slows drivers down. I agree with your sentiment that people drive at the speed with which they’re comfortable based on the conditions and the environment.

    Case in point – the speed limit on the highway is 65mph. Do you think most people in the left lane are going 65? Not in MA. And with cars designed to drive at speeds well beyond 65mph, having such a limit rarely modifies behavior outside the immediate threat of being “caught.”

    Thus, I am not in favor of your proposal because I do not believe it will improve the situation for those desiring slower limits.

  85. I approve of lower speed limits. On my small street there are many young children playing and riding bikes. Whenever a car rushes through Stearns Road, in a hurry, and they sometimes do, especially at rush hour, I fear for the safety of these kids.
    Anne Covino Goldenberg

    1. Anne – you should contact your local (Watertown?) police. You already have low enough speed limits. Changing the limits will not affect the behaviors of the drivers. The Police are generally happy to provide a courtesy patrol on problem streets and this generally has a “halo effect” for about 3-weeks to as much as 3 months. Call them and they will station a cruiser on your street for several days. (this is in Belmont, your town may vary, but call them anyway). It looks like you are on a “cut-through” from to the Hosmer school (assuming this is Watertown?) Although I really cannot see why anyone would take this as a “shortcut” (the usual issue)

  86. I strongly disagree with this proposal, and you just laid out some very good arguments against it and then waved them away.

    First of all, I disagree that this is such an urgent safety priority that it’s not worth the time to do it correctly. Pedestrians and bicyclists are not dying by the dozens because of speeding; most of the bad accidents that do occur, happen at already very slow speeds and are due to road design problems or operator unpredictability, not speed.

    Second, even if you do think this is an immediate and pressing need, you have acknowledged yourself that road redesign is really the only effective way to slow people down. Yes, it is a slow and expensive process. But it’s the only thing that works. Nominally setting lower limits without redesigning the roads will not change anyone’s behavior. So you introduce downsides like unreasonable speed traps and diverting traffic to less well-organized neighborhoods, for literally no upside since driver behavior will not actually change.

    All this proposal would do is make local authorities and the loudest neighborhood advocates feel like they have more control, and turn reasonable drivers into lawbreakers. It does nothing practical for safety.

    1. I contacted several of the MA engineering societies, (MOSES, MHA, etc.) Several have thanked me for informing them of this. Therefore, I suspect they were not consulted.

        1. Will, with all due respect, how and why is that reason enough to ignore the time-honored process of having qualified engineers conduct studies first and having a review process? This is a solution in quest of a problem. Pure demagoguery.

  87. This is a terrible idea. You’ve pretty much laid out the reasons, so why ignore them? This will NOT slow down drivers or increase safety, but what it WILL do is allow arbitrary speed traps to punish drivers with tickets. This is a bad solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  88. Will, thank you for your concern on this subject. Having lived in the city for the past 23 years and driven a lot on Beacon Street and Comm. Ave., I have never seen anyone driving 50 miles an hour. I think the drag racing incident is an aberration not the norm. If there are problems in certain areas then they need to have police patrol it more. Enforcing the existing speed limits would help with the problem.

  89. Municipalities should have the authority to set speed limits in their areas. The risks are better known to locals than to state authorities. Two more ideas to throw in the mix: 1. Get cellphones out of the hands of all drivers, and 2.Increase surveillance to get texters off the road. Thanks!

    1. Clearly, you’re of the mind to treat ebola with CSV remedies?

      Highway engineers have been trained for over 100 years to make decisions like this. Allowing local political hacks to set speed limits is ludicrous. MOREOVER THEY ALREADY HAVE THIS POWER… DO A SPEED STUDY AND YOU CAN GET ANY ROAD CHANGED TO 20 MPH IF IT’S WARRANTED!

      If your “vision 21” goal is to eliminate cars from the city and suburbs, then this is not a good answer. The answer should be to simply ban cars. If you want cars and safe speed limits, let the Highway Engineers do their job!

      1. Highway engineers study how to get traffic to move through communities as quickly as possible, with little attention to the effect on the surrounding community.

        Why should we accept speedways next to our homes?

  90. As you point out, people who drive 50 in a 30 mph zone are not going to slow down when the speed limit is arbitrarily reduced to 20. If the goal is to get drivers to obey the speed limit, simply enforce the existing law.

    Addressing the problem by allowing municipalities to lower the limit further, to 20 mph, just opens the door to additional arbitrary enforcement, like stopping black drivers going 25 in Belmont.

    If you really want to improve safety, enforce a few of the laws already on the books that are frequently ignored: no texting, no speeding, stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, maintain a safe distance when passing cyclists.

  91. I agree that it should be the towns, cities, municipalities that govern the mph on all vehicles, including bicycles. These localities are in the best position to recognize how much congestion exists in their jurisdiction. But, the speed limits should not be set arbitrarily. Some sort of a study should be done in order to determine the best speeds for the variety of vehicles on the roads.

    1. Thank you Cye – this is exactly the situation today. If you want to change a speed limit. You get a qualified engineer to do a traffic study, make recommendations and if the study shows a need, the limit is changed. This is the way it works now. Politicians seem to feel that consulting knowledgeable, trained engineers will cramp their style and they would like carte-blanche authority to set limits and be free of these nuisances. “Rules? why should we need to follow rules? We know what’s good for the people” — where have we heard that before.

      This is a bad idea.

      1. I say keep our existing controls that prevent setting arbitrary limits. Focus on making sure we can consistently enforce what we already have. chances are these at risk areas are already rife with people speeding. Once people realize they can’t get away with 35-40 we’ll be down to 25-28mph

      2. Completely agree. Let’s not have a dictatorship of the small-town official. This easy way to increase town revenues will be a bonanza for some. Bad idea.

  92. I don’t approve of this change. The red tape is there for a reason: to prevent exactly the type of abuse that you mentioned. Setting lower speed limits won’t affect traffic speeds, it just gives towns more revenue from tickets.

  93. About a third of the commenters complain that they don’t need speed limits, they need enforcement.
    Another third are complaining that police will enforce the lower speed limits.

  94. I live on Wilson Ave and we have many children in this neighborhood. I have seen too many cars rush down our street to avoid the red light at Beech St and Trapelo or avoid stopped traffic on Trapelo Road by turning right onto Flett and then left onto Wilson Ave. Some of the parents have bought those yellow children signs with flags which does seem to help. I would love for this street to lower its speed limit as I dread hearing an agonizing cry of one of the parents.

    1. Deborah — Wilson is a common “cut through” for people when traffic gets to heavy on Trapello. It’s already posted with a low speed limit, so this bill will not stop that.

      What would help would be to make Trapello more traffic friendly and thus avoid the need for people to cut through your street.

      This bill will do nothing to improve your safety.

  95. Lower speed limits won’t do anything without enforcement. And the police don’t seem very interested in enforcing the traffic laws in the city.

  96. In NH the 35 mph speed limit, or at times 40 mph, on the straight country roads leading into towns is strictly enforced. The 30 mph speed limit in town is also strictly enforced. Perhaps strict enforcement could ensure greater respect and adherence to mph postings in Boston and environs before all mph limits are changed.

    But perhaps the change is necessary, given the pace of life, stress and traffic in Boston and surrounding towns. If enforcement is not a viable option, then by all means reduce the speed limits. But then you must enforce, or all change will be for naught.

  97. Even if the speed limit is lowered the problem is who’s going to enforce the law? We have a speed limit now and I never see anyone get stopped. In my area in Dorchester there are cars speeding on roadways such as columbia rd. I have seen cars go as fast as 60 mph 6:00 in morning. I never see any law enforcement. Enforcement is the answer.

    1. I believe the residents of Dorchester get pulled over quite a bit when they drive through Belmont…

  98. We are pleased with this effort to reduce speed in Boston. Thank you for your continued efforts for the safety of the people,

    Best wishes,
    Martha and Ivan Warmuth

  99. I agree with you, Senator:
    1. People will drive at their same comfortable speed whether the posted limit 25mph or 30mph.
    2. Diverting traffic to normally less-traveled and less-organized streets can be dangerous.
    3. The cost of a traffic study exceeds the value of the proposed change in speed limits.

    A suggestion: Many police officers hand out parking tickets or stand at road construction areas to control traffic flow. Give them the authority to pull speeders over and radio in for other officers to come to the sight to write speeding tickets. This wouldn’t interfere much with their jobs, and for the speeder, on top of receiving a speeding ticket, the extra delay would be an added deterrent to speeding. Then there may be no need to change current speed limit laws at all.

  100. Not a bad idea for areas of Boston, but it needs to be counter balanced by common sense in other areas. E.g., Massachusetts has approximately 90% of its intersections marked “No turn on red”. This only adds to congestion and does nothing for safety. How about getting rid of these, most anyway? We are the only state that does it to this extent, by far.

  101. When I travel the speed limit at 30, I have people tailgating me and actually honking at me to go faster, so I really do not think this will work, below 30 is just way too slow .

  102. Every city and town seems to be widening the sidewalks and adding bike lanes. Everyone HAS to go slower. I say NO for lowering the speed limits. You’re giving the cops another opportunity to raise revenue for their town. Enforce the “thickly settled” and “school zones” that you have now. I had a guy in back of me “beeping” at me to proceed across an intersection when I would be IN the intersection. He looked like he was going to get out of his car. Then the light changed to RED. I would have been “blocking” the intersection an subject to a ticket. Then again I might have been assaulted. I think you should leave us alone because you can’t move in the city any more, you can’t afford the parking fees and the MBTA cannot handle any extra people. There is going to be more incidents of “road rage”. Bicyclist are the biggest “rules of the road” breakers and they are getting killed left and right. The Boston “cow paths” are too narrow for cars, never mind bicycles. I think you are heading for a disaster.

    1. Build bicycle infrastructure and the cyclists will follow the rules. This has been proven in city after city: Wash DC, Portland OR, Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Dublin. Cyclists, like pedestrians, when the “break” the rules generally are doing so in order to survive on the streets that are dominated by cars.

  103. I recently got pulled over just past Union Sq. in Som’l at the end of April around 4:30PM on a Friday in “stop & go” traffic. My crime, while I was stopped, I remembered I had opened a Russell Stover chocolate Easter egg when I left Brighton. While I was stopped, I reached down and took a bite which took approx. 1 second. There was a cop about 25 ft. ahead near the sidewalk who waved me over. They were given Federal & State funds to watch for drivers that were texting. Since I don’t have “texting” (can’t afford it)and I wasn’t on the phone, he accused me “DWE-C” (driving while eating chocolate) The he tried to say that I didn’t have 1 hand on the steering wheel. My left hand was resting on my thigh holding the steering wheel. Believe me, I was holding onto the steering wheel because in Oct. I was rear-ended, I was hurt and my car totaled. At the time, the State Trooper refused to ask the other driver if he was texting. So Som’l drums up fake charges to get extra income. I had to pay $25 non-refundable fee to appeal ticket. Is this “justice” ? My State Rep. Mike Moran got rear-ended by a speeding drunk Mexican driver in Brighton dressed in a Mariachi costume. Rep. Moran thought it was fine ? The drunk Mexican told the State cops “you can’t do anything to me.” Som’l is a sanctuary city. Do they need the extra revenue for translators ? Haven’t you people learned from Ferguson, MO ? Using the common people as a “piggy bank” to fund the police. And the police over-stepping their power with phony charges. Then when you can’t pay the tickets, the fines and penalties add up until there’s warrant out for your arrest. There are NO jobs out there. The politicians let them go overseas. People are running from one part-time job to another. People are “squeezed” and living hand to mouth. This reminds me of the conquered peoples just trying to survive and having to pay “tribute” to the Romans.

    1. I hate to say this but this is one reason people do not like cops – their arbitrariness.

  104. Thank you for the lucid explanation and for the cooperative efforts of Reps Hecht, Livingstone and Provost amongst others.
    Setting speed limits is challenging. I’ve been testing by driving between 20 and 25 and 30 mph on different streets in my neighborhood around Oliver Street. Five miles an hour can pose a marked difference within several blocks in my neighborhood, from a thoroughfare like Mt Auburn Street, to long streets like Church Street which are becoming bypasses to Mt Auburn Street, to side streets like Pearl Street. Each require specific speeds to maintain safety.
    The Watertown City Council is usually pro active. This is possibly a contentious issue but necessary to address.
    Thanks for your alert.

      1. Senate 2430.
        Assuming the house version is H.4419
        I’m guessing that S.2430 passes, then the two bills are reconciled in committee and sent to the Gov’s office? Does he have line item veto?
        Thanks Will.

        1. The Governor does not have line item veto (which forces the legislature to act specifically on each line item changed), but he does have the power to send the bill back with an amendment which could alter or remove multiple sections. So, you do have an avenue for appeal, in effect. However, bear in mind, that MassDOT specifically endorsed this language.

  105. Once people are issued tickets for speeding over 20 mph over the limit, they should be suffering some significant financial damage in fines and the resulting insurance hike for several years. If we catch enough in Boston, perhaps our taxes will go down (HA). Thanks for your efforts Will!

  106. On a related subject:

    Why are the parking spaces in front of the Belmont Savings Bank in Belmont Center being eliminated? Those were convenient.

    Southbound on Leonard Street as you are about 100 feet from the underpass, there is barely enough room for 2 cars even though behind and forward of that is 2 lanes. They took space away from the right hand lane unnecessarily – there is plenty of room on the right to widen the lane because it’s grass.

    Not your fault, Will, but Belmont streets have long been in disgraceful condition.

  107. Thank you for the lucid explanation and for the cooperative efforts of Reps Hecht, Livingstone and Provost amongst others.

    The experience of driving slower (25 or 30 MPH)is telling. Some remember when the State and Municipalities began to enforce the Right of Way of pedestrians in cross walks. At first, it seemed ‘strange’.

    Even before the lower speed takes effect, town by town, we could begin to practice the lower speed to begin conditioning all drivers. On a one lane street in each direction, practice may have a material and immediate effect.

    You may want to judge the effect on safety.

    Could connections be safer: between neighborhoods and those our children would make by walking or biking to friends, school, or the park?

    Is a hurdle connections by walking or biking, or even bus, the intimidation of drivers: volume, speed, distraction, and aggression?

    Thanks for the definition of thickly settled.

  108. Will – As written, your amendment provides no no requirement that the new limits be legally posted. Why the need for “secret speed limits”?
    Feels like a speed trap to me.

  109. I wonder what is the environmental impact? Driving slower means lower shift; low shift means higher engine RPM; higher RPM means more emissions.
    Personally I would prefer if govt enforced the existing traffic rules.

  110. Dear Senator,

    Thank you for your work on this. I’m all for lower speed limits in thickly settled areas where I feel 25 or 20mph is a safe and sane rate of speed. There are always those who exceed the speed limit but many people travel too fast. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we can do. If flying had the same casualties, fewer people would fly. I have felt that an expansive public service campaign about the realities of driving would be hugely beneficial. We are aware of it but we’re not aware of it.

    Thank you!

  111. Not from NH- just observant. Sorry for your Union Sq. chocolate troubles- ridiculous.

  112. To start Will, you need to know my response isn’t due to receiving speeding tickets as I follow the limits but as I read thru all of the responses that were posted in regard to allowing cities and towns the ability to set lower speed limits I vehemently disagree that the past process was ‘arduous’ or that lowering the speed limits will do any good.

    The old process was designed so as to not allow arbitrary or selective changes made by cities and towns which didn’t warrant same. It also, as a side effect, didn’t allow changes made on a reactionary basis to those who ‘have someone on the inside’. (This happens all the time, sometimes being transparent and will more so now).

    Just as you pointed out, those who do 50 in a 30 zone will not hesitate to do 50 in a 25. The road conditions allow it so they will do it.

    One glaring error I noticed that was not addressed is that some respondents admitted to not driving or commuting during peak traffic times(I’m guessing many more didn’t admit so).

    I understand this is about safety but you failed to realize that it isn’t of any consequence to those who don’t drive or don’t do so at peak traffic times if commuting times are increased, if the traffic flow isn’t reduced by sheer volume.

    Across the board it isn’t the posted speed but the abysmal and selective enforcement of same that is the issue. There may be a flash-in-the-pan reaction at commuting times but no more.

    All this will serve to do is make it more lucrative for speed traps to be set up to increase revenue to cities and towns at a higher rate under the guise of safety.

    Just when is this lower limit supposed to be a benefit if rush hour speeds are reduced by sheer volume of cars? Will there be any increase of safety at 10pm when there are few cars on the road and are forced to drive 25 instead of 30 on a road that has no issue handling same? No, There will just be selective enforcement on those who have no traffic to deal with and are forced to drive 5 MPH slower with no added benefit. The speed traps will be flourishing in the off hours when safety isn’t a question, traffic is non-existent and travel is slowed with no added value. How about we START to properly and consistently enforce those laws rules and regulations we have RATHER THAN concoct more feel-good reactionary encumbrances on those, your constituents, who are subjected to roller coaster enforcement, who need to get to work to pay taxes and subsequently your wages?

  113. As you say, drivers tend to drive the speed they’re comfortable at. As part of this, it would have been nice if the the speed limits on certain limited access highways was addressed.

    55MPH for stretches of Rt 3, 93 and 95 to NH are ridiculous and *nobody* follows them. This means that speed enforcement is essentially an arbitrary tax.

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