Several weeks ago, there was quite a bit of local Howard County media coverage involving the County Council's approval of speed cameras for school safety zones. Being an advocate of safe driving practices, I feel that utilizing speed cameras to slow down automobiles in schools zones is a great idea. In fact, I am trying to understand why we don’t have speed cameras all over the county. Don’t we all what to be safe? We have rules but we seem quite content to let them be broken. Speeding is a problem all over the county not just in the school zones. In fact, I think speeding is less of a problem in the school zones. It is rare that I see people speeding through school zones, but on the rest of the roads it is a common practice.
I think it is time to look at the big picture on what is happening on our roads. There needs to be a better balance between automobiles, pedestrians and cyclists. This was pointed out by Gil Peñalosa who gave an amazing presentation about cities that are more people friendly. The Columbia Association sponsored a program that showed us how streets and sidewalks can accommodate all modes of transportation.
Here are some of the main points from that presentation.
- Cycling and walking lead to healthier communities.
- If you are hit by a car doing 20 mph you have a 80% chance of living.
- If you are hit by a car doing 40 mph you have an 20% chance of living.
- Great cities put pedestrians first.
- Bikes are a great deal. We spend 20% of our income on cars that we use for just 1-2 hours a day.
Gil suggested that we connect great destinations with bike and footpaths and that we start now by coming up with a pilot project. Similar communities to ours in the US and Canada have adopted his ideas, and it has made them safer.
Adopting Gil’s suggestions could make speed cameras obsolete and our neighborhoods safer. For more information visit www.8-80cities.org
So, let's be sure to follow the speed limit, and slow down when we need to. In addition to making our roads safer, we'll also save a bit of gas!
photo courtesy of groovehouse