Study: Automobile Speed Limits Reduction Measures Might Make Cycling Safer

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By Charles Pekow — Does reducing speed limits make bicycling safer? Sometimes yes; sometimes no, says a study from the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The center looked at efforts in six cities to reduce traffic speeds to reduce conflicts with cyclists and pedestrians. Some were implemented during the pandemic.

20 miles an hour is plenty for Salt Lake City streets. Photo by Taylor Anderson
20 miles an hour is plenty for Salt Lake City streets. Photo by Taylor Anderson

Some of the cities reduced the number of traffic lanes. These moves cut bicycle injuries between 10 and 19 percent.

Results were mixed when placing speed security cameras around town. Washington, DC put cameras up around the city. But they didn’t cut the number of incidents between autos and cyclists.

Projects put up quickly in response to the pandemic, such as converting traffic lanes to bike/pedestrian lanes, did seem to improve safety, at least in the short run. It remains to be seen if these conversions and safety improvements will last.

See Exploring the Impact of Select Speed-Reducing Countermeasures on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety at https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/67641/dot_67641_DS1.pdf

 

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