"Slow the Fuck Down" Bill Passes in the House


What about the chance of death at 25mph? Where does the law of diminishing returns kick in?
Would it be too much to ask the Stranger to give us a sentence or two on what the bill actually does? I mean, the use of the word fuck is empowering and all, but a little actual information other than the vote would be nice.
Also, what studies? I really REALLY don't believe anything from Seattle Bike Blog if they don't cite things.
...explains Fucoloro: Speeds on such streets are most often 25 mph today. Studies show...
Studies show? Studies!

Studies conducted by traffic engineers? Using uniform standards and theories about traffic? How come the justification for this trusts these "studies" by "engineers", yet the whole point of the bill is to take the decision making out of the engineers' hands and let local politicians set speed limits at their whim? Like whenever they need to fill a budget hole? Or please an influential neighborhood activist?

You want us to believe traffic engineering studies when they say lower speeds reduces pedestrian fatalities, but we're then going to turn around and ignore the traffic engineering studies that say the decision on when and where to lower speed limits should be done based on science and not politics. We trust science when it gives us one answer we like, then ignore it when we don't like the result?

The reason the current system of letting the experts decide when to reduce speeds isn't making the local pols happy is that lowering a speed limit is not the same as lowering speed. It's easy to put up signs telling everyone to go 15 or 20 but making that a reality is a whole other matter, which costs money that local governments don't have. The point here is to bring in revenue, not spend it on actually doing things.
ps- try going 20mph anywhere other than in a parking lot for more than about 50 feet; it's very difficult. Munis on the eastside that have 20mph speed cameras write thousands of tickets a year.
An interesting study by Edmonton on their project dropping residential speed limits. It worked to reduce speeds, but only with enforcement and encouragement; the most effective method of slowing people down is actually narrowing roads and having cars parked on them:

@2 It makes it easier for cities to create speed traps, and to lower speed limits without studies or reason. Right now, to lower a speed limit, you have to have studies to show safety and reasonability. As well as traffic impact. This bill will make it easy for cities to lower speed limits well past the point of reasonability on "non-arterial highways."

The status of "Arterial" being designated by "proper authority" which may or may not be the same people setting the speed limits.
I'm pretty sure that drivers are going to speed on non-arterials no matter what the speed limit is. This is a good idea in abstract, but I don't think it will make any sort of difference.
I think we can easily dub this post as written by a Stupid Fucking Credulous Hack.
The other vital piece of information you never find on blogs like this or your trustworthy Seattle Bike Blog are specifics on the "costly and time consuming studies" this bill is designed to circumvent.

Cost? A few hundred bucks. Time? About a week. That's it.The barrier to getting a speed limit lowered isn't the cost or the time. It's the science.

The real problem this bill targets is that when they pay their $300 or $400 and do their week long study, the answer keeps coming back "No". No, you don't have a speed problem, no a 20 mph sign won't solve anything. No, you may not have a speed trap so you can avoid getting blamed for raising taxes. That's what this is really about.
There's no doubt that slower speeds are safer:


The goal, I think, with reducing speeds on non-arterials should be to get people the fuck off of non-arterials. Too many people use side streets as thoroughfares, endangering people.

So, yes. Make residential streets a pain to drive on, so that people use the arterials, instead.
aw jesus jumped up christ on a pogo stick. Just put cars on rails already and automate them if you're going to try to make being on a roadway 100% safe.
Can you imagine the revenue if there were speed cameras set up all over the place set to 25.0 mph? The private industry that rents them to the city and does the collecting (the city gets a percentage cut) sure can.

Anyway, a 0.0 mph car is the safest of all. For the sake of the children why should we consider anything but mandating the safest car of all?!?
The threat of death is a much better motivator to being alert and acting safely than depending on people to obey a sign. That goes for everything in life, but especially on the roads.
@2 I'm sorry it was unclear. This is the relevant part: the bill would "make it easier for cities to lower speed limits on side streets by eliminating the requirement to do expensive traffic studies—as long as the street in question was not an arterial."

@3 Check out the link in Mike in Olympia's comment, I was about to post that for you. We reported on a similar Sightline Institute study, when a previous version of this bill was introduced, here: http://tinyurl.com/atks6m8
Or if you prefer the private sector, here's a AAA study that actually looks even worse for pedestrians: http://tinyurl.com/auts5f6

Also, @9: Let's be fair, huh? Both The Stranger and Seattle Bike Blog have been reporting on bills just like this for at least three years now. I sure as hell might be a credulous hack sometimes, but I didn't post this without any background knowledge on the bill or the issue. C'mon! Try harder!
Cars can go 30-35mph on 25mph roads without any real worry of being ticketed. Lowering the speed limit to 20 will mean that people will go 25-30.

If they were really worried about safety, they'd start by strictly enforcing the current speed limit.
This has nothing to do with safety. It's one part speed trap and one part anti-car. As usual, the House Democrats passed it without any public hearing, because they don't want to hear from experts or individuals. It needs to be blocked in the Senate.

If you've been reporting this for years now, you know it's been dying in a Democratic Senate for years now. All of a sudden it's going to pass now that the Republicans are in charge. Ever ask yourself why?

Whitey isn't going to be paying all these over-20mph speeding tickets. This is yet another regressive tax hammering Washington's poor even harder. Score a win for the Tea Party.
By the way, there is no fixed definition of "arterial." The next thing we'll see is McGinn and the bike nazis wanting to redefine arterial. Many of them, including McGinn himself, have said that want to clog the arterials too.
Yes, please wont you think of the childr... er cyclists!!

Lower the speed limit to 15 mph, guarantee you cyclists will go over it, especially in hillside neighborhoods.

"eliminating the requirement to do expensive traffic studies"

How expensive, Anna? How long do the studies take, Anna? And how come the studies keep coming back with the answer local council members don't want to hear?

This is like a bill to let you buy antibiotics over the counter because you don't like being told by "experts" that antibiotics won't cure the common cold.

If putting up different signs on non-arterials achieved that goal, then the $300 traffic studies this bill circumvents would support that conclusion. The reason for this bill is that the data says you won't lower speeds and you won't move traffic off non-arterials, and certain special interests want to ignore the data and do it anyway.

You guys keep treating "putting up signs" with "lowering traffic speeds". One doesn't automatically lead to the other. It's the knowledge that traffic speeds will remain high that makes this a lucrative source of ticket revenue.
Here is an idea, give CARS the right of way and stay out of the road. "Might = Right." Duh...

And its freeeeeeeee !
The hypocrisy of this thread vs the gun threads is astounding.

Cars kill a shit ton of people every day. 30mph to zero is fatal for the human brain. ( terminal velocity )

Driving isn't protected by the bill of rights.

A bill allowing local governments the *ability* to lower speed limits doesn't need a study. Its a very logical extension of local governance.
@15 You should note that, in the report cited by Mike in Olympia, the difference between 25 and 20mph is not drastically different. And, neither have fatalities going up to 40%, even past 45mph.

In fact, the fatality rate in Study 1 of the report by Mike in Olympia for a 25mph is 1.8%, and for 20mph it is 1.2%.

The fatality rate for Study 2 has it at 1.1% and 3.7% respectively. Less negligible, but a 2% drop is not nearly as exciting as a 35% drop.

Also, in both cases, 30mph has the fatality rate at 5.4% and 6.1% respectively.

It certainly calls into question the legitimacy of their reports based, not on real life studies, but on other reports which were based on theoretical mathematics.

Even the AAA report has the fatality rate as 15.5% at 30mph (which is nowhere near the claimed 40%).

So, again, Stupid fucking credulous hack.
It's your fault for speeding. Have some patience assholes.
E= 1/2mv^2. Kinetic energy formula. Mass=m, velocity=v.

Not a proof of course, not a study, but it is a clear argument a smallish change in velocity could make a big difference in mortality where v is somewhere in the range where people sometimes live and sometimes die when hit by a car.

Governments already have the ability to lower speed limits. They just want to do be able it without a rationale based on evidence.

The proposals to address gun violence are also based on science, instead of romantic notions and paranoid fantasies that define gun culture. There's no hypocrisy in choosing facts over fantasy when it comes to both speed limits and gun regulations.
I have been a motorcylist for 20 years and I do not believe you can drive 25 to 30 miles per hour on a side street safely. The number of random events and narrow roads make it an impossibility. And anyway 20 miles per hour is hauling ass when it comes to a pedestrian... a five minute mile... a dead sprint if you are running. 20 miles per hour will get you to an arterial where you can increase your speed on roads with the infrastructure to support it. The average car in the US weighs 4000 pounds, when it collides with a bicyle or pedestiran or child it doesn't feel like much... to the car. http://www.instructables.com/answers/Wha…

I WISH that were true, especially on MY street (22nd), where cars will zoom down a narrow single-lane with cars parked on both sides, doing well over 25 mph, generally in order to avoid the traffic light at 23rd & E. Union. As a result, kids play exclusively in their back yards; residents are forced to park on the curb strip (and risk getting ticketed for doing so) in order to minimize the possibility of being side-swiped, which is a not-infrequent occurrence; and there is the occasional fender-bender at the south intersection which has a Yield sign posted for North/South traffic, but which is frequently ignored by speeding drivers (there being no traffic island at that particular intersection).

That being said, I don't think posting a lower speed limit will have much effect, not without frequent enforcement at any rate. After all, drivers already ignore the posted 25 mph limit, so I don't see them changing their behavior. The only really practical solution is to install speed-bumps or berms at both ends of the block and at least one in the middle (since the block is double-length) in order to prevent drivers from building up speed. But, that of course costs money, money which the city currently doesn't have,


In the case of the street where I live, I would beg to differ with your assessment. I and my neighbors have had to shell out enough in insurance costs for our parked vehicles having been side-swiped by speeders, that it clearly IS an issue of safety on our block.
@30 Then you need increased enforcement of speeds already posted. Not lower speed limits.
@28 Governments already have the ability to control guns. They just want to do be able it without a rationale based on evidence.

Seriously this is hilarious.
Imagine home much safer it would be if cars only went 5 mph! Oh, I forgot, FUCK. Now I'm a reporter for the Stranger! Why do I feel useless & stupid?
The fact that they don't want a traffic study -- which is cheap, not expensive as the Stranger's stenographer has falsely stated -- shows that safety isn't the issue. This is purely a matter of speed traps and the ongoing battle against cars by the bicycle nazis. Nothing else.

Uh... no. There is no standard procedure for restricting guns the way there is a standard procedure in Washington for lowering speed limits (it costs $300, takes a week, and you get to lower the limit if the evidence supports it.) That, and the fact that local gun control laws are meaningless because you can buy guns over city and state lines. Traffic rules work nothing like that. Your analogy is pure shit.

You're sitting here taking mindless pot shots about things you know nothing about. Take the time to read about this stuff, will you?
The same stats:

20mph = 5% chance of death
30mph = 45% chance of death
40mph = 85% chance of death

were quoted by The Economist:


They must be a bunch of liberal credulous hacks.

There are no bike nazis.
The same fucking bicycle nazis who think it's just fine that neighborhoods can petition the city for lower speed limits on their residential streets, and call that an example of local governance in action, are strangely silent when those same neighborhoods band together to stop those odious skinny houses from springing up on their streets, because, you know, DENSITY!
@36 You trust the Economist?!

They don't even cite the title of their "quoted" report. Perhaps you can find it for me.

Washington recently passed a bill under Gregoire so that police could apply a significant fine ($1200 I believe) if a driver recklessly endangered a defenseless pedestrian or bicyclist. I wonder if that law has ever been applied or a driver fined under it.
Trust me, once this passes (and having looked at the Legislature's website, I think it will pass), you will see the bike nazis pushing for a redefinition of "arterial" that will give just about every street in Seattle a 20 mph speed limit. This is entirely about speed traps and anti-car politics.
You are full of shit. Sorry.
@40 1/10

@42 -3/10

#42, typical bike nazi.
...an aside: mortality rates are only part of this: hospitalization and broken bones and concussion are worth minimizing too. Even a broken finger can be very very BAD news.
@10 and many many many more by the same tentacle fan, you keep saying that traffic studies cost three hundred bucks to do. I'd like to see some documentation of this: I don't know any engineering firm that would blow its collective nose for three hundred bucks. If you said three thousand, it might be plausible. (Either that, or said studies are being done by "Joe's Trafik Studys!!!!" or some similar reputable firm.)
Traffic studies for speed limit changes consist of determining the "85th percentile speed," i.e., how fast 85% of the cars are traveling. This consists of putting two boxes with data gatherers attached. They are those rubber hoses that record when a car goes past. You need two of them so you can record the speed of each car. Deployment of each box costs $150.

All of the other information used in considering speed limit changes is already present in city records. What Seattle wants to do is avoid the 85th percentile testing, so they can set speed limits without regard to realism. Once the Legislature allows it, the first thing they'll do is cut all non-arterial speed limits to 20 miles an hour.

The next step will be to begin changing the definition of an arterial. There, the city will probably declare that any street with houses and/or apartments on both sides is non-arterial, no matter how wide it is or much much traffic it bears. This will be step #2 in the plan by the bike nazis to cut the city-wide speed limit to 20, and by the city to create a speed trap windfall.

The only "broken fingers" will be from all those people writing all those checks to the city treasury for going 30 miles an hour on streets that were once posted at 30, 35, and 40 miles an hour. The bike nazis want to make the city intolerable for drivers, and the city wants to suck as much money out of drivers as it can. Safety is completely irrelevant.
@36: I believe this is the study:


Engineering firm? It's a basic process carried out by a couple of DOT workers. You don't have to invent anything. Just go out there with some equipment, record the traffic for a few days, and apply some standard rules to see if a lower speed limit is called for. More often then certain people would like, the cure isn't a speed limit sign, it's real traffic calming: speed bumps, traffic bulbs and circles, parking changes. Concrete mitigation. Not a sign that lets cops write some tickets at random.

The reason the state law currently requires this is because it's simple, cheap, and it works.

The Economist article isn't calling for a few 20mph signs. It's describing the benefits of comprehensive traffic calming, based on serious engineering. Not excited neighborhood activists and pandering politicians.

It costs money to implement all that. Nobody wants to spend money. They want speed traps to bring money in, not out.

There's no such thing as a "non-arterial highway".


Have you asked SDOT to put in speed bumps? They'll supposedly do it if you ask. Although I wouldn't count on it happening anytime soon.
A few points of information:

For small cities in particular that don't have the staffing, an engineering study has to be contracted out at a cost estimated at around $1,000-$3,000--money they could spend fixing potholes instead of studying a 5mph change in the speed limit.

Cities have overall traffic and street plans developed by engineers; any change in speed limit occurs within the existing context of those plans. The bill would require a city that wants to take advantage of it to develop a specific process and the city certainly may use engineering expertise to set guidelines for that process. A city also isn't required to utilize this provision at all--it's an option, not a mandate like the existing statute.

Traffic engineers maintain that speed limits should be established according to the 85th percentile of free-flowing traffic. This means the limit would be set at a level at or under which 85 percent of people are driving. Thus, if they're speeding through your neighborhood a traffic study would show that the speed limit should be set in order to allow them to continue to do so. What people want to do isn't the only relevant standard, given the impacts on property values and the quality of life of the people who live on those streets.

Chapter 35.78 RCW requires cities and counties to adopt uniform definitions and design standards for municipal streets and roads. Standards for arterials are set through RCW 35.78.030 and RCW 35.78.040 by a state design standards committee in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation. No deviation from the adopted design standards may be made without approval of the state aid engineer.

For detail on definitions of arterials and non-arterials, the adopted design manual PDF is here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/TA/Operations/LA….

For those who worry about speed traps being deliberately created, low-speed non-arterials are also generally low-volume streets, meaning there wouldn't be enough payoff to make it worthwhile.

Lowering the speed limit alone won't make a street safer, although posted speed limit reductions do bring down the average speed in a given stretch (per the NHTSA study already cited, http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/resea…). Safer traffic requires a combination of driver education and design changes over time.

Lowering the speed limit on side streets makes it safer for drivers as well as for pedestrians and bicyclists, although obviously the latter are more likely to be injured in any collision. As people age they become even more vulnerable, so at the very point in their lives when people may need to give up driving and use transit more, they're more fragile and suffer more serious injuries if struck by a vehicle.

None of which will change the minds of some of those commenting here, I know--just offering the information.

Barb Chamberlain
Executive Director
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
(The organization that brought the legislation in the first place)
@51, "Non-arterial highway" is the correct statutory term for city streets not defined as arterials per the design manual I cited in my previous comment.

"Highway" is defined as "A general term denoting a street, road or public way for purposes of vehicular travel, including the entire area within the right of way" (WAC 468-34-110, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?…) and as "Every way, lane, road, street, boulevard, and every way or place in the state of Washington open as a matter of right to public vehicular travel both inside and outside the limits of incorporated cities and towns" (RCW 47.04.010, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?…)

Most of us think of state highways and freeways when we use the term "highway," but that's not what it is in the code.
@52 Your design manual does not define arterial vs non-arterial. Unless I'm missing a very specific page. It seems to be a general "how to design any road" standards pdf. Could you please reference where it designates where each one is defined?


@51 You know how I know you didn't read the bill?

The changed text will read:
(3)(a) Cities and towns in their respective jurisdictions may establish a maximum speed limit of twenty miles per hour on a nonarterial highway, or part of a nonarterial highway, that is within a residence district or business district.
(b) A speed limit established under this subsection by a city or town does not need to be determined on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation if the city or town has developed procedures regarding establishing a maximum speed limit under this subsection. Any speed limit established under this subsection may be canceled within one year of its establishment, and the previous speed limit reestablished, without an engineering and traffic investigation. This subsection does not otherwise affect the requirement that cities and towns conduct an engineering and traffic investigation to determine whether to increase speed limits.
(c) When establishing speed limits under this subsection, cities and towns shall consult the manual on uniform traffic control devices as adopted by the Washington state department of transportation.
@48 That says risk of fatal injury at 30mph is ~9% or ~7%. Not near the 45% The Economist quoted. Try again.
Wouldn't it be easier if Seattle just got off its ass and put in a thorough and 21st century FUCKING TRANSIT SYSTEM so I can throw my goddamn car away?
#52, is lying, as the bicycle nazis routinely do. The $3,000 traffic study he quotes isn't a speed study, and he knows it. Besides, even if it wasn't true, McGinn seems able to come up with $500,000 anytime he wants for this or that study.

Thus, if they're speeding through your neighborhood a traffic study would show that the speed limit should be set in order to allow them to continue to do so.
You think this because traffic engineers are ghouls who think it's fun to watch people die?

In spite of your gross mischaracterization, the 85th percentile rule is the baseline for determining a speed limit, not the final determining factor. Local conditions and other road users, to name two, are some of the other factors that must be considered.

But still I'm pleased to see the Bicycle Alliance of Washington go on record with this litany of invented facts. All the better to discredit you.

Explain to me how the all-powerful crypto-fascist bike lobby conspiring to destroy the city of Seattle. Their Manchurian candidate, Mayor McGinn, has so far of failed to meet any of their significant goals. When does the good part of the secret plan to make a city-wide 20mph speed limit go into effect?
Au contraire, #59, your butt-boy McGinn has been meeting their goal by closing more and more lanes to automobiles. He's also neglected street maintenance, and is directing capital expenditures to bike projects and not to car projects. And I already explained how he'll implement 20 mph speed limits, but you're too stupid to understand what anyone writes.
"This is yet another regressive tax hammering Washington's poor even harder."

Funny, because it's always the po' I see racing through my 'hood. Yuppies in Subarus? Not so much.
Self-driving cars will be the bike and transit nazi nightmare, because they will directly address congestion while being privately owned and preserving individual freedom of movement. The worst will be when these things are electric, because then the eco-nazis won't be able to oppose them in Seattle, which gets 98% of its electricity from renewable sources.
@63 Self-driving cars will be a blessing for bicyclists -- individual human drivers are lousy judges of risk and subject to all sorts of distraction, inattention, road rage, etc.

Multi-billion-dollar corporations on the hook for the performance of their self-driving cars will produce vehicles that actually *obey the law* by yielding at crosswalks, driving safe speeds, passing at a safe distance, signaling turns, making full stops, obeying red lights, yielding when changing lanes, and all the other things that human drivers ignore when killing another 9/11 worth of Americans every single month.
I can vouch for speed studies costing over $1,000 for small cities that don't have their own staff to conduct them. Even when the consulting engineers call it a no-brainer when they first see the street, and their study justifies a speed limit lower than the city was proposing, it's routine for an outsourced speed study to exceed $1,000 for a few blocks of street.
Good. In addition to school zones, ALL adjacent zones should be coded downward. While we're at it, I want compulsory speed trap cameras in EVERY school zone, in addition to mandatory bulbed sidewalk curbs on all adjacent blocks around all schools. Hell, if I could I would also mandate intersection garden circles on all non-arterial intersections on the block BEYOND that perimeter.

Some people will support a law like this for reasons that have zero to do with "bicycles". Stop thinking the world revolves around bikes. 99% of us could have a crap about that side of it.
#65, the legislation is all about Seattle, and the desire of the bike nazis to further hobble the automobile, and of the city to create speed traps everywhere. Seattle has an engineering staff. Traffic studies for speed limit changes are dirt cheap here.
#64, will the self-driving car run over a bicyclist when he runs a stop sign in the dark? I sure as hell hope so.
"Traffic studies for speed limit changes consist of determining the "85th percentile speed," i.e., how fast 85% of the cars are traveling. This consists of putting two boxes with data gatherers attached. They are those rubber hoses that record when a car goes past. You need two of them so you can record the speed of each car. Deployment of each box costs $150.

All of the other information used in considering speed limit changes is already present in city records"

That might be true if you're in a squeaky clean new suburb where the original drawings are all digitized and still accurate. But in the rest of the world, the speed survey is a trivial part of the overall cost of surveying and documentation of sight lines, lane widths, obstructions, and other conditions that go into setting the speed limit.

The last one I had to sign off on cost close to $3,000 simply to retain a 15mph speed limit on a 1.5-lane-wide street with a blind corner that's been there since the 1920s. That prompted me to write the Legislature yet again to support the bill this year. Small cities have been supporting this reform for years because of the cost of the current system for cities that don't have the engineering staff to do this work in-house. Seattle is a latecomer that brings leverage to get it passed, but they're hardly the source of the reform.
@68 - If the self-driving car has time to stop for a scofflaw cyclist running a stop sign in the dark, it will. That's not just a good idea or a nice thing to do, it's the law -- even if the person in your way is breaking the law, you have a fundamental duty of care to other road users, to avoid accidents if practicable.

If a cyclist runs a stop sign and gets hit by a driver that couldn't stop in time, that's the cyclist's fault, doesn't matter if the car was driven by a person or a computer. If a cyclist runs a stop sign and gets hit by a driver that should have been able to stop, that driver could be liable for the accident.

A human driver in that situation has some leeway to say, "I just didn't see him." A computer-driven car will have records of what it saw and when, and its decision algorithms for dealing with the scenario will be open to review.

If you were the parent whose child hit a ball into the street, which car would *you* want coming down the street right then, a distractable human with plausible deniability, or a robot that stays on task and records its actions?
#69, nice attempt at a lie. You really hate cars and love the taste of McGinn's dick, don't you?
@69 But in the rest of the world, they still use the speed studies. Gee, the cost of maintaining roadways is so onerous! Better get rid of the cost and make it a political decision--when has that strategy ever failed us? Also, in the rest of the world, traffic engineering is more sane and people don't intentionally impede traffic with their vehicles. Ever think of reengineering that mentality, which causes worse dangers?

But it's disingenuous to say this will have a noticeable impact on fatalities when we all know that high speed rear-end collisions and side impacts cause the highest amount of traffic fatalities by a much wider margin. If the Bike Alliance was concerned about fatalities, they'd get behind better driving behavior AND traffic engineering everywhere, without using the law to circumvent traffic engineering. Especially with the left lane campers and vigilante motorists of all kinds (e.g. bicyclists too).
@72 Here I meant "casualties" instead of "fatalities" but non-pedestrian collisions are still much higher fatality rate than the others (and the actual number,while still significant, varies depending on the source).
The bicycle alliance doesn't care about safety, and neither does the city. If they did care, they'd be doing more traffic studies, not trying to block them.