Saturday, April 14, 2018

Portland Makes School Zones/Child Safety Nearly Obsolete

Now that Portland has a 20 mph speed limit in all residential areas unless posted otherwise, it's kind of sad to see school zone warnings to slow down to 20 mph during school days and certain hours or when the school light is flashing. It's now school zone 24/7--which means with no relationship to the safety of children.

I took this photo outside Parkrose High School. Kids are no longer anything special.

I don't mind the slower speed. I'm not in such a hurry as I get older. But, I wonder at the reasoning.

They say reducing 5 mph to to 20 mph will make a big difference. I don't believe it. I bet there won't be significant drop in traffic injuries and fatalities, but there will be a lot more road rage as the vast slice of drivers in a hurry to get somewhere grind their teeth in residential areas.

Hey, if 5 mph makes such a big difference, why is Oregon going to raise truck speeds from 55 to 60 on some highways? Because it doesn't make such a big difference, that's why. Might even reduce accidents as car drivers aren't so frustrated by lower speed truck drivers.

Actually, a significant cause of fatal accidents is speeding which is highly related to age (young), gender (male), alcohol and motorcyles. The "20 is plenty people" have taken none of that into account.

People tend to drive at what they think is a safe speed. Slowing down to 20 in a school zone is made more palatable because one thinks of the increased likelihood of children in that area. Who is going to pay special attention to children's needs and school zones now? Not many and only when the school is on a faster speed street.

Where there isn't a similar increased likelihood of a special needs population in residential areas, it seems that there will be more vehicles ignoring the new law as an unreasonable limitation. From a National Conference of State Legislatures 2014 speed and speed limit report:
One of the most significant areas of state speed legislation in recent years has been raising speed limits. Studies have shown that increasing the speed limit does not necessarily lead to an equivalent increase in driving speed because drivers continue to drive at the rate of speed at which they feel comfortable.


MAX Redline said...

Yeah, they put up shiny new speed signs on our dead-end road. People still do 40+ out there. Spent a lot of money for nothing.

T. D. said...

They just like to fool around and spend money on trendy things. Apparently 20 mph zones not only didn't work in Britain, but deaths increased.

"A year after the UK cities of Bath and Somerset enacted 20 mph "safe zones," statistics reveal they are anything but.

"To reduce traffic deaths, Bath and Northeast Somerset declared 13 safe zones both in urban and more rural areas with strictly enforced 20 mph speed limits. The idea behind these zones is that with reduced velocity, drivers would be better able to react to pedestrians. In practice, this hasn't been the case, as nearly all areas have reported a higher instance of pedestrian deaths in the year since the new limits took effect."

But, who cares about evidence when guessing is so much easier. Apparently speed bumps really do help (yep, I slow down for speed bumps), but who cares about what really will help? Especially when it's so much more difficult and costly than lowering speed by mere fiat.

MAX Redline said...

So much for "strict enforcement". Of course, around here, they don't bother with such things; it's been years since I've seen a patrol car on our road. Speed bumps would be good in areas like SE Foster Road and Powell, which is where a lot of bike-ped fatalities occur in Portland, but as those are state roads, the city couldn't install them there even if they wanted to.

Down the hill in Washington County, there are a number of speed bumps on roads west of the Tigard Fred Meyer; they're those 3-piece units that are designed so that fire trucks can just blast right through.

T. D. said...

Max, it's kind of nice they have some limitations and can't just do anything they like. The 3-part ones sound like a good idea. However, I don't think they really care that much about fatalities. They are more into issuing fiats trying to discourage car and truck traffic and the driving public knows that.

MAX Redline said...

And they're doing things wrong: cyclist and pedestrian deaths are at a all-time high!

T. D. said...

Max, you're way ahead of me. Thanks!