DC lowers speed limits to 25mph on major roads

The speed limit on some of DC’s major suburban corridors is lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph, in the latest effort by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to curb the growing number of serious traffic accidents in the nation’s capital .

The speed reduction took effect Friday on Connecticut Avenue NW and will be effective this week on New York Avenue NE, two busy roads that carry nearly 100,000 vehicles a day and carry heavy traffic from Maryland to downtown.

Two other corridors — North Capitol Street/Blair Road NW and Wheeler Road SE — will see the speed limit reduced in the coming months, the district’s transportation department said.

The Bowser administration claimed slower speeds can help improve safety and cited successes in other cities that have implemented lower limits. According to a study cited by the city, pedestrians are less likely to die when struck by a slow-moving car.

“DDOT joins peer cities, including New York and Seattle, in reducing the speed limit in key corridors because we know that reducing speeds by even five miles per hour makes a big difference in preventing serious crashes and injuries. “, DDOT Director Everett Lott said in a statement. .

Despite Signage, DC Drivers Don’t Slow Down in School Zones, Study Finds

The move responds to calls for speed reductions across the city, and particularly on roads that run through neighborhoods and areas with heavy pedestrian and cycle traffic. In recent years, these calls have increased in response to a series of high-profile fatal collisions involving pedestrians. Law enforcement officials cite speeding as a factor in many of the district’s fatal crashes.

It’s unclear, however, how effective the new posted boundaries would be without the city first implementing physical route improvements, some residents and elected officials said, just new signs could be easily ignored in routes conducive to higher speeds and absent from enforcement.

“Our roads are not properly designed to keep speeds at or below the speed limit,” said Josh Jacobson, a Pleasant Plains resident who is running for a seat on the Neighborhood Advisory Board in Ward 1, on a platform that calls for safer roads. “We need to add physical infrastructure to make speeding more difficult and put our children at risk – higher, high-visibility crosswalks, more bollards and reductions in lane widths will slow cars and save lives. “

Council member Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) welcomed the speed limit change but said more work was needed to make it work, including street design for 25-mile speeds /h, clearer speed limits and improved speed camera signage.

“While this won’t solve all of our problems…it’s a big step forward,” she tweeted.

Two years ago, Bowser set the default speed limit on DC streets at 20 mph, down from 25 mph, citing concerns about speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors that are a factor in a higher rate. high number of road deaths.

Traffic crashes in DC this year have claimed 24 lives, including 13 pedestrians and three cyclists, according to city data. The number of victims fell by five compared to the same period last year, but the number of deaths has increased in recent years. Last year, the district recorded its highest number of road deaths in 14 years, drawing increasing attention to the number of injuries and deaths on city streets.

Bowser promises safer roads with transport budget

Bowser is also pushing a large-scale modernization and expansion of the city’s automated enforcement program, promising to more than triple the number of traffic cameras by the end of next year to target speeding, drivers who run red lights and stop signs and those who illegally use bike and bus lanes or overtake school buses.

Transportation officials said city engineers used a federal tool called USLIMITS2 that helps cities set safe and consistent speed limits to settle on the 25 mph limit in key corridors. However, they did not disclose any traffic engineering studies justifying the reduction in the speed limit. The district has conducted other studies of Connecticut and New York avenues in recent years as part of planned changes to these corridors.

Along Connecticut Avenue NW, the city is moving forward with a plan to add a northbound and southbound bike lane and remove rush-hour reversing lanes that had been confusing drivers for decades. years. The proposed configuration for a corridor that carries an average of 32,000 vehicles per day will result in fewer lanes reserved for cars.

In the northeast, work is also progressing on the redesign of the old “Dave Thomas Circle,” a dangerous intersection where First Street NE and New York and Florida Avenues converge. City officials said the overhaul includes adjusting traffic light schedules, adding a speed camera and lowering the speed limit. Changes to intersections, which are expected to be completed in two years, are expected to affect traffic flow on a route that carries an average of 65,000 vehicles per day.

DC road deaths at 14-year high, low-income areas hardest hit

The new speed limit will be in effect for the entire five miles of Connecticut Avenue NW from the Montgomery County line at Chevy Chase Circle to downtown. Along New York Avenue NE, the 25 mph limit should extend from the line of the roughly the line from Prince George’s County to downtown.

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