Unlocking Albany’s Potential: A Call to Slow Down and Reflect

Give this idea a green light: The Albany Common Council is moving forward with a bill that aims to decrease the speed limit on city-owned streets to 25 miles per hour. This simple and sensible change aligns perfectly with Albany’s objectives of creating safer streets and promoting fairness.

By reducing the speed limit, pedestrians will have a greater chance of survival if they are involved in a car accident. Data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that a person hit by a car traveling at 30 miles per hour is 70 percent more likely to lose their life compared to if the vehicle was only going 25 miles per hour. Clearly, a small 5-mile difference can make a significant impact.

We understand that some skeptics may argue: “If you lower the speed limit, people will just exceed it anyway.” While there may be some truth to this claim, studies demonstrate that lower speed limits do indeed lead to an overall decrease in travel speeds, especially among faster drivers. Additionally, every mile of reduced speed contributes to saving lives.

In their efforts to improve street functionality for all residents, Albany has implemented measures such as speed humps, traffic calming techniques, and a proposal for automatic crossing signals for pedestrians. Alongside other initiatives, Albany is embracing the concept of “complete streets” – infrastructure plans that consider the needs of not just drivers, but also cyclists, pedestrians, and public transit users. These complete streets are not only safer and more environmentally friendly, but also create a more community-oriented atmosphere. After all, who would want their child biking to school or playing on the sidewalk while cars zoom by at 40 mph?

Complete streets are particularly crucial in neighborhoods like many of those in Albany, where street layouts were established long before cars became commonplace. Moreover, since pedestrians in low-income areas and nonwhite individuals face higher rates of fatal traffic accidents, efforts to decrease speeding on city streets also contribute to promoting social equity.

Consider that every person who steps out for a cup of coffee, commutes to work by bike at the Plaza, crosses the street to catch the bus, chats with neighbors on stoops while their kids play on the sidewalk, walks home from school, or pushes a shopping cart to the grocery store – this bill recognizes that in Albany, a significant portion of life occurs out on the streets. Therefore, the members of the Common Council should fully support this plan with swift action.


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