Wednesday, February 4, 2009

VDOT proposal to lower speed limit on Route 1

In early 2008 VDOT proposed to lower the speed limit on Route 1/Richmond Hwy from 45 mph to 35 mph. As was mentioned in our FABB blog post in March of last year and an update in April, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors halted the effort due to lack of notification.

Over the past year VDOT had met with various groups in the Richmond corridor. However, Supervisors Hyland and McKay continue to oppose the lowering of the speed limit. They contend that there will be a significant negative impact on commuters in the area. There is no mention of the relationship between high speed and pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. In fact, stating that pedestrians are to be blamed for their own deaths, mentioning "illegal pedestrian crossings" as a reason for the high fatality rate.

VDOT recently responded to the latest letter from the supervisors. They continue to argue for lowering the speed limit: "While we cannot guarantee that lowering the speed limit will solve all the operational and safety issues, it is the professional opinion of our engineering staff and consultants, based on available research, a lower speed limit will result in a more orderly flow of traffic."

We strongly support the proposal to lower speeds on this dangerous road. Speed is the biggest factor in determining the severity of a pedestrian or bicycle crash. In two British studies, the odds of pedestrian death rose from 45% at 30 mph to 85% at 40 mph. At rush hour, speeds are relatively low due to congestion, so lowering the speed limit would have limited impact on traffic flow and combined with other measures, could help. During non-rush hour periods, when travel time is not as important, faster speeds lead to fatalities.

If you agree, please let Supervisor Hyland and Supervisor McKay know about your support for lower speeds on Route 1.
Lowering the posted speed limit to 35 MPH would also give VDOT the ability to stripe narrower travel lanes, stripe bike lanes, widen sidewalks, and widen raised medians in the limited VDOT right-of-way along Rte 1.

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