LETTER: Focus on better neighborhoods, not higher speeds
To the Editor:
I want to echo the sentiments from Vincent Aguirre’s letter, “An Alternate Perspective on Franklin Street Parking Situation” published on Friday, Sept 16. Vincent explained how wider, faster streets lead to more car crashes and overall greater risk for vulnerable road users like cyclists, pedestrians and kids. I encourage you to peruse the sources he cited.
Much of Franklin Street is zoned residential, and as a parent of two young kids, I firmly believe that things that slow cars down in residential areas are a feature not a bug.
As Vincent suggests in his letter, if you need to go faster, you should go on main thoroughfares like Indianapolis or Veterans rather than driving through residential areas. At the end of the day, going 30 mph rather than 25 mph for the entire length of Franklin from Gilespie to Indianapolis saves you a mere 26 seconds. But for every incremental increase in speed, the risk of death or serious injury for a pedestrian increases significantly — 85 percent risk of death at 40 mph, 45 percent at 30 mph and 5 percent at 20 mph (source: https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/documents/ss1701.pdf).
We all think we can handle faster speeds, but the reality is: We are fallible and easily distracted. We should slow down a bit in areas where there are kids and other vulnerable folks.
Rather than turning our residential streets into throughways and highways, we should seek to slow down. Narrower streets with easier pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and smart on-street parking reduce the danger to pedestrians, bicyclists and kids. These things do not cost drivers much time, and they make our community a safer, more welcoming place.
Instead of designing roadways to save a few seconds, let us focus on building neighborhoods where we can live and get around without worrying about whether someone we love is going to get run over.