The city council is trying to decide on whether they should lower the speed limits on some St. Paul streets. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about whether the current conditions of roads are safe enough for pedestrians and what the city can do to improve them.
The change could take place within a year if the city council decides to make it. The current speed limit for urban residential streets is thirty miles-per-hour. The reason for the change would be pedestrian safety because the city wants to improve walking, biking, and transit safety. They have already made steps to improve safety before like making roads smaller in lanes and width, filling sidewalk gaps, and enhancing ice and snow removal, but the city council wants to do more.
There is evidence from the Saint Paul City Council that shows that when the speed limit is lowered just a little, the rate of death and injuries goes down significantly, which is a huge motive for their plan. Some people aren’t entirely for the change because it could impact traffic patterns and make commutes slightly longer and in addition, would most likely cost more than 300 thousand dollars. Junior Rashmi Raveendran said, “Even though I don’t live in St. Paul, I feel like slower speed laws could affect my overall routine just because I’m in St. Paul so often.”
From an engineers perspective, lowering the limits seems to be the right choice for local streets, but we should not do the same for highways. Highways in the 85th percentile of speed and slower local roads are the safest.
A five mph change seems small to most drivers, but it makes a significant difference for pedestrians. Studies have shown that at 20 mph, nine out of ten people are killed, but at 30, five out of ten people are killed. “It could definitely increase driving time, but I don’t think the impact would be drastic,” said Raveendran.
Senior Nina Smetana said, “I would be fine with it as long as it makes the streets safer.”
Raveendran said, “I do think I would be in favor of lower speed limits just because it enforces the speed limits that are currently posted, which I think are safe regulations.” It could create a few challenges for student drivers, but both students are in favor of the change if it would make the city safer.
Smetana said, “If people are already driving the speed limit, they should be, then I feel safe either way.”
Overall, the speed change is minimal, and it will bring more good than harm. For students, this is good because it means pedestrian safety will improve, even if they don’t technically feel safer, which is a common way of travel for lots in the community.
For student drivers, it could add a little bit of time to their trip, but it also means safer, more cautious driving, which will, in turn, also be beneficial for the community.