Friday, January 21, 2011

20 is Plenty


Mary Harbaugh said...

I'm in!

Anonymous said...

I'm out, not to mention it would likely never fly with the state's 'reasonableness requirement' after a traffic engineering study had been completed.p

ECC said...

I just happened to come across the video and thought it was really interesting.

20 might be fine for those very narrow streets in England, but not sure it would work in Newburyport.

I'd be happy with "30 Means 30" and "What About Stop Don't You Understand?"

Ed Cameron

Rick Taintor said...

"20 is plenty" for any neighborhood street in Newburyport. Many of our side streets achieve this through narrow widths, frequent stop signs, and creative parking, so special signing wouldn't make a difference. But cars frequently speed down neighborhood streets like Woodland, Kent, Federal, etc., that connect our major collectors. Some type of traffic calming is called for, and signing with a lower speed limit would be far cheaper than making physical changes to the streets.

I agree that 20 mph would run into trouble with MassHighway's regulations. The regs and State law are out of date (the last time MGL Ch 90 Sec 18 was amended was 25 years ago) and consider only one form of transportation -- the motor vehicle. MassHighway prioritizes "efficient traffic flow" for automobiles above all other users of the road. (The word "bicycle" does not appear in the "Procedures for Speed Zoning" document; and "pedestrian" only appears once -- quoting Ch 90 Sec 17 about the responsibility of a driver to go slower than the speed limit in special situations.) If the State does not consider bicyclists and pedestrians in determining appropriate speed limits, then of course the speeds will be higher than comfortable for those users.

I frequently drive on South Street in Portsmouth, which is comparable in width to Ferry Road or Kent Street and provides access to the high school, a nursing home, an elementary school and city hall. It is signed for 20 mph, with a 15 mph school zone at the elementary school. I understand that the same constraints on speed limit signing exist in New Hampshire as in Massachusetts, but that the City of Portsmouth went ahead and erected the signs anyway. They work.

But even better than "20 is plenty" would be adoption of a "Complete Streets" policy, committing the City to "design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities". See for more info.