This fall, many citizens gathered at a Boston City Council committee meeting to express their public support for lowering the speed limit for the city’s roads. The proposed speed limit reduction would decrease the current speed limit from 25 to 20 mph; this comes less than two years after it was decreased from 30 to 25 mph.
This proposal is particularly concerned with the protection of vulnerable populations such as pedestrians, especially the elderly and school-aged children, as well as bicyclists. Some citizens feel like this long overdue, especially knowing that speed reduction may have already saved some people’s lives. Just last week, a 24-year-old Boston University graduate student, Meng Jin, was struck and killed by a dump truck while riding his bicycle on the Boston/Cambridge line. This stands as just one of many tragic examples that prove road safety should be considered a top priority for the city.
The speed reduction that took place in 2017 has already had positive results; the Institute for Highway Safety released a study that revealed promising trends in driver behavior that resulted from the 25 mph speed limit. In 2017, 29.3 percent less Boston drivers exceeded 35 mph while driving in the city. Another 8.5 percent reduction occurred in drivers exceeding 30 mph on Boston roads.
This committee meeting is not the only road safety initiative that Boston is taking on to increase road safety. The ambitious “Vision Zero” plan aims to eliminate all serious and fatal traffic crashes by 2030. It is attempting to achieve this goal through the completion of initiatives such as the implementation of better bike lanes and neighborhood slow streets.
While this meeting is a promising first step in the process of reducing the city’s speed limit, more discussion and public input needs to occur before substantial action will be taken. Only time will tell if the City of Boston decides to move forward with this speed limit reduction, which could save the lives of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicle drivers alike.
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