Vox Civitatis the Sustainable City News weblog
05/15/2012: "The Slower We Drive, the More Richly We Live"England's Guardian newspaper reports that local communities are growing ever more supportive of blanket 20mph speed limits on residential streets.
We all know the stats by now: that at 40mph, approximately 80 percent of pedestrians hit by cars die, while at 20mph, "only" 5% will expire as a result of motorists' typical hurry and carelessness.
The other effect of lower speed limits, of course, is that people who live in those traffic-calmed neighborhoods can now use more of their neighborhoods for personal and community activities, or for traveling about under their own power on foot and by bike. This reduces costs to cities (who don't have to rebuild roads so often) and improves personal and public health--as well as making everyone's lives more enjoyable, something you can't really put a price on, even in this cynical time.
The one caveat in England's movement is that the cops want the speed limits to be "self-enforcing"--meaning based on structural changes in streets, not just a change of signs. That may sound cavalier, but they're right--well-arranged streets, that is, streets designed as civic spaces rather than sluiceways for cars, improve life, health, and community tremendously--and by freeing people from the structural mandate to invest in cars (and the high tax rates needed to support their use), they enrich economies as well.
Read more at the Guardian, in Momentum Builds for 20mph Speed Limits.