Why Columbus is working to lower its speed limits
Columbus drivers tend to drive faster than the national average on roadways shared with pedestrians, making our streets more dangerous for people on foot.
Driving the news: Just 26.7% of Columbus' major pedestrian roadways had average vehicle speeds under 25 mph as of October 2022, compared to the national average of 36%, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
- The finding is based on a report from StreetLight Data, a company that tracks mobility trends using anonymized cellphone data and other sources.
Why it matters: Pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a collision when a car is traveling at 30 mph compared to 20 mph, and over five times more likely when the car is driving 40 mph, according to the AAA Foundation.
Of note: The biggest danger zones are fast-moving roads alongside busy retail areas with lots of foot traffic — think Morse Road, Dublin-Granville Road or Broad Street.
- In urban areas, such arterial roadways make up about 15% of all roads but account for 67% of pedestrian deaths, per StreetLight Data.
Reality check: It's difficult to change drivers' behavior on multilane streets, which are common in Columbus. Our street designs make roads feel like speedy highways — and consequently make them more dangerous, Ohio State University researchers found.
The big picture: Over 7,500 pedestrians were struck and killed by cars in the United States in 2022 — the most in 41 years — per a Governors Highway Safety Association report.
Zoom in: Columbus' fatal pedestrian crashes are also trending upward, from 15 in 2016 to 25 in 2022.
The latest: City Council voted in February to lower the speed limit from 35 to 25 mph in our downtown business district.
- Workers installed over 100 new signs and retimed 134 traffic signals to accommodate, per the city's latest Vision Zero action plan.
What we're watching: The plan calls for further improvements and increased police enforcement to reduce local fatalities through 2028.
- That includes reducing speed limits on at least 10 more streets and reconfiguring lanes on at least five corridors.
- Work is currently underway to convert Front Street and Marconi Boulevard from one-way to two-way traffic to help slow more downtown vehicles, a Department of Public Service spokesperson tells Axios.
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