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. 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)

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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,
    CT

  15. 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!
    Bill

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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).

  20. 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.

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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…

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

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

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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?

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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?)

  40. 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.

  41. 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)

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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?

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

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