City Desk

Are 15 MPH Roads The New Bike Lanes?

4600 Block of Hillside Rd. SE

The D.C. Council is considering a measure that would reduce speed on residential roads to 15 miles per hour—arterial roads excepted. Councilmember Muriel Bowser says speeding cars are a deterrent to potential walkers and bikers.

I'm willing to bet that drivers—especially those hard core D.C. drivers who don't want to travel any other way—aren't going to take very kindly to this proposal. Some survey results I highlighted last month, I think, demonstrate that the city's much-celebrated advocates of walkability still have a ways to go when it comes to converting large swathes of the population to their pedestrians-first view of urban life. Which means that any proposal to inconvenience cars, even a sensible one enacted in the name of safety, risks being caricatured as another elitist insider effort to harass old-school Washingtonians in the name of the strolling, bike-riding, snowball fighting twits who are gentrifying the place.

Either way, it's not like the measure would make an enormous impact on time-pressed car commuters: The current 25 mph limit in residential neighborhoods doesn't seem to be enforced particularly well by D.C. cops. At the home of a friend who lives in Petworth, we regularly sit on the porch and watch drivers slam into a speed bump because they're going 10, 15, or 20 miles above the limit.

I suppose if the limit is dropped, then cars might actually start driving 25 miles per hour, though.

Photo by Tiffany Browne

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  • kenilworth

    The speed limit may be 25mph but on most streets you have to slow down to about 5-10 miles per hour not to tear your car apart when you go over the "speed bumps" which are actually just a big mounds of asphalt... Just a way to get more money to some Contractor (Ft. Meyers)... Lol

  • r. u. kidding

    15mph on residentials is a good idea. I have always been baffled as to why anyone can get away with putting 10mph speed bumps on a street with a 25mph speed limit.

  • Typical DC BS

    More DC stupidity in action by Bowser.

  • jeff

    And yet, when there is two speed bumps on a block, drivers still manage to exceed the speed limit between the bumps.

    I think NJ ave is the biggest joke when it comes to 25 mph limit: 4 lanes and occasional lights. The flow of traffic seems to be more like 45 mph.

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