Are 15 MPH Roads The New Bike Lanes?
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