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Atlanta and 25 mph speed limits

John Ruch reports on a recent neighborhood planning meeting:

[Committee member] Kendall said the transportation committee was concerned that the 25 mph speed limit might slow traffic on main corridors too much and increase neighborhood cut-through traffic — a big issue in Buckhead. He said the committee suggested picking and choosing streets for the 25 mph limit rather than the broad, “magic wand” approach of making it the default limit.

“I think the speed [issue] is a bit of a distraction,” [Atlanta transportation chief] Rowan said, claiming that the average traffic speed on Buckhead’s Peachtree Road during usual rush hour was already far lower at 12 mph.

He said most traffic back-ups in rush hours are caused by crashes, not speed limits. Reducing traffic speeds and “conflicts” — places where vehicles may cross paths — are strategies that reduce crashes, he said.

It’s clear from the conversation (as it’s reported) that these changes are not intended to disrupt car-domination. But lowering speed limits, and challenging the bias that we need our cars to always move as fast as possible, is a step in the right direction.

A “vision zero” plan for street safety should ideally include a strategy to lower the total number of cars, not just slow the existing ones.