Be prepared to make a call!
Representative Kay Khan showing her value to the city and state has co-sponsored a bill to lower the prevailing speed limit to 25 MPH (from 30 MPH). That change will affect all roads without a specifically set speed limit and allow municipalities (like Newton!) to lower the speed limit on most roads without the cost, headache, and ultimate futility* of a state waiver.
This is a no-brainer. Call/e-mail/visit Chairman Vincent Pedone, House Committee on Bills in Third Reading. Contact info below. (House Committee on Bills in Third Reading? If I'd ever finished a Kafka novel, I'd probably say that sounds Kafka-esque!)
Here are the deets:
House Bill #4728
An Act Relative to Speed Limits
Lead Sponsor: Representative Denise Provost, Co-Sponsor: Kay Khan and others
How this bill changes existing law
- Currently, speed limits on local roads are not set locally. Lowering a speed limit on a local road below 30mph requires state approval (MGL Ch. 90:18), and is based on a study of actual speeds of vehicles using the road.
- Local petitions to lower speed limits currently must be made road by road, case by case, and the community bears the cost of each speed study.
- H.4728 would lower the prevailing speed limit – the presumed speed limit “unless otherwise posted” – on local roads, in commercial districts, and densely settled residential districts, from 30mph to 25 mph.
Why lower the prevailing speed limit in urbanized areas from 30 mph to 25 mph?
- At 30 mph, almost half (45%) of pedestrians struck by an automobile are killed; 50% are injured, leaving 5% that escape death or injury.
- Lower speeds encourage yielding to pedestrians, watching for bicyclists, and increase the reaction time for drivers to respond to road conditions.
- For every 1 mph reduction in speed, there is a reduction in vehicle collisions by 5% and a larger reduction in pedestrian fatalities.
- Consider: A 10 mph reduction in the speed from 30 to 20 mph; Pedestrian-automobile accident fatalities drop from 45% to 5%.
Where is this bill now?
H.4728 was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Transportation and House Ways & Means. The bill, which has the support of Highway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky, is currently in the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading awaiting further action.
Call or Write TODAY to:
Chairman Vincent Pedone, House Committee on Bills in Third Reading
Room 20, State House, Boston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2410
*Here's how I understand it. If you want the speed limit lowered in your neighborhood, you petition the city to petition the state. If the city decides to petition the state, a speed study is done and an 85th percentile speed determined. The 85th percentile speed is the speed above which only 15 percent of drivers drive. Here's the irony. If the 85th percentile speed is above 30 -- which might be the case if people are zooming down your sleepy residential street -- it works against you. The 85th percentile speed is presumed to be a safe speed, so there's no reason to lower the limit.
High prevailing speeds are a reason not to lower a speed limit. How 'bout them apples?!