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Bicycle Safety

No Need for Speed: Twenty MPH Is Plenty for Us

3:22 PM EDT on August 30, 2010


Earlier this month, the New York City Department of Transportation announced
plans to experiment with 20 mph zones -- replacing the city's default
30 mph speed limit in one pilot neighborhood. Whoever gets the first 20
mph treatment will see benefits that residents of British cities and
towns have become increasingly familiar with in recent years.

In the UK,
some 3 million people live in areas that either have 20 mph speed limits already or are in the process of adopting them. The
experience there shows that not only do slower speeds save lives, but
lowering the limit to 20 mph improves the way local streets function in a whole host of ways. According to the 20's Plenty for Us campaign,
the change has produced wide-ranging benefits, including less traffic,
increased walking and biking, greater independence for children, the
elderly and infirm, better health, and calmer driving conditions for
motorists.

The mission of 20's Plenty For Us is to establish 20 mph as the
default speed limit on all residential roads in the UK. I recently met
up with the campaign's founder, Rod King, as well as other advocates in
the towns of Warrington and York, to understand how the idea of slowing
down traffic has spread so fast throughout the country.

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