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30-mph-speed-limitSan Francisco is joining the growing number of cities seeking to lower their default speed limits. New York City recently got state approval to lower its speed limit to 25 m.p.h.

The reasoning is simple: lower speed limits save lives. Lower speed limits also improve the experience for pedestrians and bicyclists. There’s a UK group called “20 is Plenty” that advocates for 20 m.p.h. speed limits. The group’s website has an extensive briefings section taking on every possible criticism of lowering the speed limit, from blaming pedestrians to drivers not obeying the limit.

Should the speed limit be lowered in the City of Rochester? As someone who walks a lot, I think it should be explored. Thirty miles an hour feels very fast on residential streets. It even feels fast on Park Avenue, where there are numerous people crossing the street mid-block. It feels fast when I park on a main road, such as East Ave., and try to avoid cars whizzing by as I exit my vehicle. When you spend enough time outside of your car, everyone seems to be going too fast.

But in the city that had a heart attack at the prospect of narrowing Lake Avenue, a haven for speeders, something like this is bound to face opposition. Here’s a bit of the Twitter discussion that followed my tweet about San Francisco’s effort.



Links of the Day:


– Work is under way on a $25 million new home for the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls.

– Boston students can no longer have a private conversation with their friends on the bus.

– It’s the new tracking. Chicago sorts kids by ability – by using the school choice program.

– As we reflect on the 1964 riots in Rochester, you may enjoy reading this account of a Jewish family on Joseph Avenue. It’s a great history. Here’s Part One and Part Two.

– Watch movies outside in downtown Rochester. Fun!




I’ll be filling for Bob Lonsberry Tuesday and Thursday on WHAM1180 from 8 a.m. to noon. Please tune in and call in!


LEGO Project of the Day:


20 Responses to Should Rochester Lower Speed Limit?

  1. July 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm Bob Lewis responds:

    Yes, lower $peed limits increase $aftey just like the red light cameras!

  2. July 21, 2014 at 10:08 pm RaChaCha responds:

    I’d say yes — but I don’t think Uncle Reggie is going to like this AT ALL.

  3. July 21, 2014 at 10:46 pm Elmer, the downtown worker responds:

    Your article contains one of my pet peeves about downtown and the Park Avenue area – people crossing in the middle of the block without regard to traffic. A crosswalk with warning signs would be better. Why can’t the city do that at least? And then enforce it. People are going to die if they keep doing that, even with a speed limit of 10 mph.

  4. July 22, 2014 at 6:54 am scoale responds:

    I still don’t see the justification for lowering speed limits in Rochester. If nobody has been killed here, then the city lowers the speed limit, there’s no proof that lowering worked. Don’t create fear in something that doesn’t exist based on other cities…. and countries.

  5. It seems like the measure of success should not be “nobody has been killed here.” What about the people who will never walk again? What about the working father who has to go on disability after being hit on his bike by a car and now doesn’t have the income he needs to support his family. Don’t they deserve consideration?

    It is easy to understand why many people will not see this as important – because when you are in your car you don’t appreciate the walkers / bikers. They are just “in the way.” But the data is not good. People are getting injured in Rochester. And awareness is really low (see comments above).

    I’ve seen walkers and bikers get hit on East and Culver – all of whom were in the cross-walk, crossing appropriately with the light. I’ve had so many close-calls myself (again, in the cross-walk) that I’ve joked to my kids that I need to start crossing with my phone in record-mode so the staff in the morgue will know what happened to me.

    Look, I get it. Nobody likes to slow down. Walkers and bikers are annoying to drivers. But this IS a problem in our city. And the human body is no match for a 2 ton SUV.

    • July 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm scoale responds:

      “I’ve seen walkers and bikers get hit on East and Culver – all of whom were in the cross-walk, crossing appropriately with the light.”

      based on Rachel’s research, all were hit going under 20mph, cuz none of ’em died.

  6. July 22, 2014 at 9:03 am scoale responds:

    hey Rachel, i drive each night for 2 hours in the city. what do you think the impact would be on non-profits for having me and the staff i ride with to be driving 30% longer. also, have you taken into consideration the impact on RTS? rescheduling all their routes and possible adding more buses to keep up with demand.

  7. Won’t make a bit of difference unless it is actually enforced by officers. I see and hear cars laying into it, well past 40mph on Meigs EVERY day. There are plenty of cops, but they aren’t doing speed checks.

  8. July 22, 2014 at 9:55 am John Moriello responds:

    Lower speeds = more reaction time to avoid accidents (whether pedestrians and walkers).

    But what’s the effect of spending more time on the road because of the lower speed limit? Would you not come across more vehicles and more pedestrians in the course of your trip?

    That would seemingly make for more opportunities for incidents/accidents even if the lower speed had the effect of making these events less dangerous.

    I’m not saying no to the proposal, just that there are a lot of moving parts to the equation when someone’s proposing something this major.

  9. July 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm Ivan Ramos responds:

    no one goes 30 now! it’s another one of many laws we don’t enforce even while contemplating creating a new law to supersede the unenforced law…

  10. A couple of points:

    o I live in Penfield, and am an avid cyclist. Before the city started putting in bike lanes and new pedestrian accommodations, I NEVER rode in the city, because it was a terrible place for cyclists. Now I bike into the city 4 – 6 times a week, because it has become a much more reasonable place to travel around. When I’m there I stop and buy snacks, ice cream, etc. I’m one person, and that probably adds just a couple hundred bucks per year to the city economy, but that’s money that I didn’t spend there three years ago.

    o Just because a solution doesn’t fix 100% of the problems doesn’t mean it’s a bad solution. It just means that people will always find a way to get themselves hurt.

  11. July 23, 2014 at 12:20 am Orielly responds:

    Every year about 30,000 Americans die on our highways. We could stop this tomorrow .. all we need to do is drive tanks and have the speed limit be 2 miles an hour.

    BUT that is unreasonable …so for the ability to go fast up to 75 MPH in some states, we are apparently willing to sacrifice 30K Americans lives.

    Every mile of a lower speed limit will statistically result over time in the saving of some lives.

    I do not recall any statistics that said that there are suddenly more lives being lost on city streets because of cars going too fast. 30MPH has worked apparently for decades and over the last few decades traffic in the city has declined.

    Vs Logic.. I suspect an agenda is at play here. Anti cars, pro bikes, anti burbs pro city living, … hey lets lower the speed limit that’ll get them. Facts and logic be dammed…lets lower the speed limit, because we hate cars and urban sprawl.

  12. July 23, 2014 at 10:25 am Animule responds:

    Rachel, how come we never heard a cause of death for Alex Davis of Victor, member of the Phi Sigma Xi fraternity that died on Sunday, May 4th at Geneseo under what could best be described as suspicious circumstances? There was a flurry of information about this in early May, and then nothing. The death occurred at a frat house that had several drug arrests a couple years before, and yet the frat was allowed to retain its charter. The lack of information on the cause of death, and questions about why Geneseo allowed the frat to come off probation in the first place, remain unanswered. The silence on this case is interesting, to say the least. The cause of death should have been reported a month or so ago, but I do not recall seeing anything on this.

  13. July 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm Adrian Martin responds:

    I’d support lowering the speed limit to 20mph on small side streets. However it seems a bit silly for streets like Dewey Ave, Lake Ave, Mt Hope, Elmwood, East Ave, etc. to be 20mph.

  14. July 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm Lee Drake responds:

    By all means let’s lower the speed limits. I mean about the only thing that Rochester has going for it is short commutes to work so now that we’ve lengthened them by adding unused bike lanes and reducing traffic into and out of the city via alternate routes, let’s also lower the speed limit so it takes even longer to commute to work. Then people will continue to move to the suburbs where they don’t have to put up with this kind of BS on a daily basis. While we’re at it, let’s increase the city’s revenues at the expense of the workers in the city by ticketing them for going a reasonable rate of speed on city streets. Weren’t you the one all up in arms about the city traffic stoplight cams being a revenue raising scheme? Don’t you realize this is more of the same?

  15. Pingback: Pedestrian Deaths: Poor People at Greater Risk » The Rochesterian

  16. I give a huge no. I actually held off on getting my drivers license until I was 19 because I could walk anywhere that I wanted in the city. I never once had an issue with cars doing 30 miles an hour being too fast. We do have a high accident rate, but that could easily be solved by going back to ticketing pedestrians for J walking. 25 or 30 doesn’t matter in a city where we cushion the life of a pedestrian so much. Children should look left and right, people should stay on the cross walks. Look at the areas around us. They’re all 35-40 in areas that do have children out playing, and they have less problems.

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