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Perhaps a better way to improve pedestrian and bike safety

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Jan 1, 2013

Today, 1 January 2013, many communities in the UK introduced 20 MPH speed limits in areas where cars, pedestrians and bicycles share the same space.

Web Link

"One of the key figures in the rise of 20mph speed limits in the United Kingdom is Ben Hamilton-Baillie, an architect, urban planner and traffic consultant whose work and research was influential in moves such as the one by Islington Council in October to limit all of its managed roads to 20mph. Islington claims a 65 per cent fall in accidents in its 20mph areas.

As part of research into how pedestrians and cars can share outdoor space more safely, Mr Hamilton-Baillie spoke to cranial pathologists who showed him statistics proving that the risk of mortality from a car collision isn't just linear – it accelerates significantly after 20mph.

The explanation is that the human skull has evolved to withstand impacts up to around 20mph because that's about as fast as a human can run into something. It's also easier to keep traffic flowing at 20mph as a road with a 40mph limit will need extensive safety controls."

Why not here?

Comments (8)

Posted by Nick Baldo
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 1, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Love the idea. The whole notion that going 40mph instead of 20 is something we and our children should die for is pretty strange. More traffic calming, please!

Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

As a parent of grade school-age children and a daily pedestrian (walking to and from home and the Menlo Park and Palo Alto Caltrain stations) I completely agree with Peter and Nick on this, though I tend to wonder whether a majority of Menlo Park citizens would agree to 20 MPH speed limits. Thanks for sharing this, Peter.


Posted by Susannah
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Good idea.

Posted by Compliance
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Reducing speeds is what matters, not reducing speed limits. Without enforcement you will not have compliance. Also, California has the stupid 85th percentile law that prevents cities from setting speed limits to what they want - the speed limits are set by the speeding drivers. Of course we could change our laws, but there is no political will to slow down drivers in order to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 4, 2013 at 12:15 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the original article:

"In what is being hailed by campaigners as a "cultural shift", as well as a significant reversal in decades of policy which prioritised motor vehicles over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, new figures show that dozens of cities and towns across England and Wales have either approved slowdown zones or are now considering introducing them. It is claimed a 10mph cut in the maximum speed limit could lead to a 40 per cent reduction in the number of road casualties, as well as reducing pollution, promoting cycling, walking and local shopping."

Isn't it time for our cultural shift?

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 4, 2013 at 6:55 am

"Isn't it time for our cultural shift?"

In "car-centric" California? Not likely.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 4, 2013 at 9:52 am

The most recent accidents have occurred on El Camino Real.

20 mph may be fine for some streets, but El Camino Real is intended and designated to be a major arterial roadway. It is SUPPOSED to have capacity for a lot of traffic and SUPPOSED to carry cars at a higher speed. Other than our two freeways, El Camino is the only highway that runs the north/south length of the Peninsula.

Although I am hardly an expert on British traffic, my experience in England is that there are very few roads like El Camino Real in any city there, including London. Even Knightsbridge Road is just four lanes wide - and the speed limit is not 20 mph.

The problem - at least as it relates to the pedestrian and bike accidents on El Camino - is that these two constituent groups do not mix well with high capacity, high speed traffic. We have high flow/high speed traffic on freeways without pedestrian and bicycle accidents. For El Camino Real, we need to have better crossing (probably overpasses) and move them far from the roadway.

Don't take it out by frustrating motorists who need to conduct business, deliver goods, shop, travel to work, take their kids to school and use our local businesses.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

Lived in the U.K. for 3 years in a,market town just outside of London. The town leaders and the county council started a program of traffic calming and street redesign.

Reduced width of streets and lanes, remember parking is also a lane.

Better crossing for people both in business and public facility. See school, hospital, church, and park.

Roundabouts instead of signaled intersections, plus narrow slight curved lanes leading up to and away from the roundabout.

Just a few of many U.K. or European street design. One more No turn on Red.

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