Driving speed has a dramatic effect on the driver’s “cone of vision,” according to an interesting article on streets.mn. As you can see in the above drawing, you can see remarkably more detail when you drive at 20 mph rather than 30 mph. At 30 mph, nearly all the people on the sidewalk simply aren’t seen by the driver. When drivers say after a close call with a pedestrian or bicyclist, “I didn’t see them!” they are telling the truth.
And then there’s lethality. If a car drives 40 mph and hits a person, he has an 85% chance of dying. Cut that speed in half and you cut the death rate to just 5%. Do we want the Pike District to be as safe as possible for teens walking to the yogurt store after school and officer workers walking to happy hours after a long day? Do we want bicyclists commuting to work and families riding their bikes to the farmers market to be as safe as possible? Then we must figure out how to set speeds that both move traffic and more important, ensure the safety of Pike District walkers and riders.