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Transportation Nation

2/3 of City Streets are Near Schools, Subject to Lower Speed Limits

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

WNYC

A new WNYC Data News map of public and private schools shows that two thirds of streets are within a quarter of a mile of schools, with that number climbing to nearly nine of every 10 streets in Manhattan, 82 percent of streets in Brooklyn, and 74 percent in the Bronx.

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Transportation Nation

MAP: Limiting Speeds Near Schools Would Affect Most City Streets

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

State law says New York City can lower speeds on streets within a 1/4 mile of school. That's 55% of city's streets -- including 3/4 of those in Manhattan and more than 2/3 of those in Brooklyn and The Bronx.  WNYC/Transportation Nation mapped the streets, as momentum builds for a law to restrict driving speeds to 20 mph in parts of the city.

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Transportation Nation

In Texas It Will Soon Be Legal to Drive at the Wind Speed of a Category 1 Hurricane

Friday, September 07, 2012

The German Autobahn. There is no speed limit. (Photo CC by Flickr user myfear)

As the saying goes, 'everything is bigger in Texas,' and soon that will apply to the speed limit. The Texas Transportation Commission approved a new maximum speed limit of 85 m.p.h. That will make the Lone Star State the lone state with claim to the highest speed limit in the nation when it is implemented in November. As the Los Angeles Times points out, that means you can legally drive faster than hurricane force winds.

The first stretch of road slated for the speedy honor will be a 41-mile stretch of brand new toll road set for completion in November connecting Austin to Seguin.

It seems that money is at least partly a motivator in pushing the limit, according to this from the AP:

"The state contract with the toll operator allows the state to collect a $67 million up-front cash payment or a percentage of the toll profits in the future if the speed limit is 80 m.p.h. or lower. At 85 m.p.h., the cash payment balloons to $100 million or a higher percentage of toll revenues.

"Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Veronica Beyer says "we must continue to look for innovative ways to generate revenue and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.""

There is no federal speed limit. Utah and some sections of Texas road currently have the highest posted speed limit in the U.S. at 80 m.p.h. Years back, Montana experimented with a speed limit of "reasonable and prudent" during daylight hours. That amounted to no speed limit at all to many motorists. Eventually a driver appealed a speeding ticket and won, which led to the law being struck down and replaced with a 75 m.p.h. limit.

Naturally, safety advocates aren't so thrilled with the idea of a national creep towards an American Autobahn. Accidents are more deadly the faster you are going. However, as this National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report shows, speeding is different from going fast. There is a heap of academic guidance on how to set a safe speed limit based on road conditions. Texas has determined that on this new stretch of road, 85 m.p.h. is safe. As this 1992 study found, most people drive how fast they will drive, regardless of the speed limit, though ticketing does spike when you lower the limit ... and that could help keep driving safe.

No word yet if ticket revenues were also factored into the Texas decision. The transportation commissioners haven't issued a comment about the change.

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Transportation Nation

French City Considers 18 mph Speed Limit

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Strasbourg Downtown Square (Flickr user ChristinaT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The city of Strasbourg in northeastern France has announced a plan to reduce vehicle speed limits throughout the city to 30 km per hour, or just 18 m.p.h.

Treehugger reports the city, the capital of Alsace, is already one of the most bike-friendly cities in France, and much of the city already operates on an 18 mp.h. limit. One goal of the measure is to reduce crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians and bikes, but the stated reasoning according to the mayor is a city of shared streets.

Mayor Roland Ries said in a statement translated on Treehugger, "The public roads no longer belong to automobiles alone. They must be re-imagined to be redistributed in a fairer manner between all forms of transportation. The protection of the most vulnerable is thus reinforced in zones in which all users have access but in which the pedestrian is king."

The historic city center is a "pedestrian priority" zone using the "filtered permeability" planning philosophy, which promotes travel by foot or pedal power by reducing the number of through streets for cars while increasing them for pedestrians and bikes. There's also a pretty futuristic looking tram criss-crossing the downtown. For a sense of just how transit-oriented the town is, here's a diagram of the public transport in the city center.

The general public will vote on the speed limit reduction in May.

Full story at Treehugger.

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