The Definition of Speeding Shouldn’t Be Relative

Streetsblog Network member blog Greater Greater Washington has been ramping up coverage of crashes that result in pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities (they’ve got a new safety beat reporter, Stephen Miller), and in a recent post they highlighted the car-centric thinking of local law enforcement:

545214901_43c7f41ebb.jpgPhoto by sirwiseowl via Flickr.

DC police officer David Baker thinks pedestrians aren’t paying enough attention,
writes Michael Neibauer in the Examiner. They cross the street while listening to iPods or checking their Blackberries, contributing to crashes like those on Connecticut and Nebraska. He’s probably right.

Still, Baker’s quote shows one small sign of the auto-oriented thinking so endemic in our society (besides Neibauer using the common but dangerous term "accidents" to refer to 15 pedestrian deaths):

Some vehicles do speed through that busy crossing, Baker said, but most average 34 to 7 mph. The speed limit there is 30 mph.

If most cars go 34 to 37, that sounds like most vehicles are speeding. Sure, they’re only speeding a little, and I admit I often go 34 to 37 on roads like Connecticut. Still, let’s be clear: most vehicles are speeding.

As the recent study by Transportation Alternatives shows, speeding is a huge problem in New York as well. How can we change attitudes like the one expressed by the police officer above? Through advertising campaigns like the ones in the UK and Ireland? We’ve been talking about this a lot lately, but it’s worth bringing it up again: If even police officers like the one quoted above don’t think speeding is speeding, how are we ever going to get anywhere in our efforts to slow people down?

More from around the network: Hugh Bartling says urbanists are liking new Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Discovering Urbanism looks at the appointment of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión as director of the new Office of Urban Affairs; and just for fun, Austin on Two Wheels posts a Miller ad that uses a fun bike ride to sell some beer.

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