ACTION ALERT: Help Needed With Speed Limit Bill

MassBike needs your help to pass House Bill 4728 to reduce the prevailing speed limit in Massachusetts urban areas from 30mph to 25mph. MassBike and other safety advocates have long supported efforts to decrease the speed limit, and this is the closest it has ever been to passing! This bill, originally sponsored by Representative Denise Provost (Somerville), would significantly increase pedestrian safety in neighborhood settings by slowing vehicle traffic to speeds safer for walkers and cyclists. It is currently in the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading, and when it reaches the Senate, it will be on the fast track, so please take action to support this bill by calling or emailing TODAY.

Why is this bill important? This is an important safety measure because bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities from crashes with automobiles are directly related to speed: When struck by a vehicle going 40 mph, 90% of bicyclists and pedestrians die, as compared to only 5% when the vehicle is going 20 mph. Massachusetts’ prevailing speed limit of 30 mph is too fast for local roads in densely developed areas, and 25 mph is the safer standard, which has been adopted by many other states across the country. Massachusetts should join these states in protecting the safety of all our residents and visitors.

What can you do to help?

1. Call or email your State Senator and ask him or her to ask Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo to move H4728 forward.

2. Call or email your State Representative and ask him or her to ask Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo to move H4728 forward.

3. Email to let us know who you contacted.

Thanks for your help – we can’t do it without you!

Click here to find your State Representative (called “Rep in General Court”) and your State Senator (called “Senate in General Court”), then click on their names to get phone numbers and emails.

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5 Responses to ACTION ALERT: Help Needed With Speed Limit Bill

  1. Eoin July 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    I looked at the NTSHA statistics which point out, as you did, that at 5 percent of bicyclists and pedestrians are killed when hit by an auto traveling at 20 mph.

    The same stats say that, at 30 mph, 45 percent will die.

    It seems that fatalities increase sharply for speeds above 20 mph.

    So why not push for reducing the speed limit to 20 miles per hour?

  2. David July 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    @Eoin: That’s a very good point. No question – the slower cars go, the greater the chance of a biker or walker surviving a crash. I think there are at least two things factoring in to the 25mph target. First, it’s necessary to find a reasonable compromise between safety and practicality – how slow can we really expect motorists to go? Second, almost half the states have already lowered the prevailing urban speed limit to 25mph, that seems to be the trend, and there is value in consistency among motor vehicle laws from state to state. There may be other reasons, but those come to mind.

  3. boblothrope July 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    (as I posted on the other item,)

    I get around mostly by biking, walking, and public transit, and I oppose this bill.

    25 mph might make sense in urban areas like Boston and Cambridge. But plenty of places around the state have houses 100 feet apart where 25 mph is way too low of a speed limit, since it’s safe to go 30 or 35.

    Municipalities can already request 25 mph speed limits on any roads that should have them.

    And the “functionally classified local road” provision really confuses things. Are drivers supposed to carry around the FHWA’s complete street index for Massachusetts and look up the classification of each road as they drive on it?

  4. k August 14, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    A 25 mph speed limit would’ve been excruciating, and undoubtedly have led to increased congestion. And of course, slower-passing cars make auto exhaust that much more of a nuisance to cyclists and pedestrians–blech.

    The seasoned Bostonian in me had smelled an ulterior scheme in this bill to raise revenue from traffic tickets. After all, the national trend is for states and municipalities to nickel-and-dime constituents to compensate not only for our troubled economy, but for sins of the past–spend-happy policies–as well.

    On a somewhat related note, I recently heard a piece on NPR about the national trend toward higher highway speed limits. A reason is that modern safety features such as seat-belts, airbags, and crumple zones mean that autos are much safer than they were when many speed limits were first implemented.


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