We Read the Speed Limit Comments So You Don’t Have To

Kitten Reading Internet Comments

Emergency kitten

When controversy happens…when tempers flare…we read the comments, so you don’t have to.

Perhaps it’s a slow news cycle, but the news has hit that the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota plans to seek a change in the state law that sets a “floor” of 30 MPH on city streets. (Yes, city speed limits are set by state law. This seems like a weird case of state control, no?)

And, if it’s a slow news cycle and the word “bicycle” is involved, you can bet there’s comments. If the word “bicycle” is married to the word “lobby,” we can easily assume that bad things will happen.

We decided to read the comments and rate each media outlet on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization and our heart is melting a little, even at -4 degrees outside.”

WCCO/CBS: Bike Lobby Seeks 25 MPH Speed Limit for MN City Streets


  • Brady drags out the cost of bike trail argument, because it somehow applies? “Millions of miles of bike trails and lanes paid by tax dollars and demanded by bicyclists. Millions of dollars in yearly upkeep and even repaving! Bicyclist only use a few miles. Sit outside any bike path in Minnesota for a day in the summer. Nothing. No one. Bicyclists need to shut the fuqqq up and stay off the roads and stop making stupid demands.”
  • Luke says: “Enough of the giveaways to the blasted bike riders!!”(Changing the speed limit law is a subsidy?)
  • The delightful Winston Smith suggests vehicular manslaughter (homicide? Not a lawyer here!): “I will go for the 25mph speed limit, if they mean that is how fast I have to go (No Slower) as I drag them down the road for blocking traffic.”

SCORE: 0 ?. There were the equivalent of upvotes on the vehicular injury to bicycles comments. Sigh.

KSTP: Bike Lobby Seeks Lower City Speed Limit in Minnesota

No comments!

This one includes an Associated Press byline, so maybe KSTP don’t allow comments on wire service stories? The AP distribution also explains why every single instance of this article refers to the “bicycle lobby,” which seemed odd!

SCORE: Not scoring this one, although the lack of comments is quite a relief after the CBS comments, given the usual quality of KSTP comments.

MPR: Do you support a speed limit of 25 miles per hour on city streets?


  • Curmudgeon says: “You know what really makes me upset is anyone thinking that it is a hipster agenda to want drivers to slow down on residential neighborhood streets. There is no reason to drive down residential streets (NOT arterials) faster than 25, and even should arguably be 20 on residential neighborhood streets.”
  • sgigs suggests that laws cannot be enforced, sort of, in saying “No amount of speed limit regulation is going to make people slow down.”

SCORE: 3 ?. Low amount of engagement (5 comments) brings it down.

Reddit: Bike lobbies proposed 25 mph limit on city streets.

23 comments…JUST LIKE WCCO. Could it be…aliens?

  • “This is a stupid proposal. I hope this doesn’t pass.” Okay.
  • Multi-approach suggested! “I think reducing speed limits and better coordinating the traffic lights to allow better flow of traffic would be ideal.”
  • “30 is slow enough,” says another user.

SCORE: I’ll go for a full 2? here, for completely arbitrary reasons. It saddens me to see the number of people claiming that changing the law won’t matter because it won’t be enforced, balanced by the ones who say it will be enforced solely to take away the weed they have in the car, and etc.

Star Tribune: Bicycle lobby to seek lower speed limit for cities in Minnesota

752 comments. I’m not sure I have sufficient cleansing fire for this one, let alone cleansing vodka. (My liver has limits, even with a strong Swedish background.)

  • In this comment, a user assigns responsibility for behavior on bikes to “cyclists” but says “cars” must stop. Where’s the motorist in this? “cyclists as a general rule seem to think they are god’s gift to the roads and cars are supposed to just stop on a dime because they decide to ride into your path at 5 miles an hour. they don’t obey crosswalks, stop signs, stop lights, right turn rights of motor vehicles, which side to ride on, block lanes with no regard for larger faster moving vehicles. wearing headsets that block sounds around them etc.”
  • tyouel uses a phrase I love “super pedestrians.” (But let’s all avoid wearing capes on bikes, okay?)“It helps to think of bicyclists as Super Pedestrians. They can ride in the bike lanes, on the bike paths, across public fields, on the road and on sidewalks. It’s their choice.”
  • The double-standard is cited by a reasonable soul: “Sounds like many motorists are okay with the idea of entertaining the idea of a slower speed limit AFTER all bicyclists wear high-visibility clothing, obey all laws and cede 95% of the road to motor vehicles. It’s a good thing we don’t take the same approach to road projects that primarily benefit motor vehicles!”
  • 300+ comments about spandex, bikes ignoring traffic laws, the injustice of bike lanes, and equating the “bike lobby” to Black Lives Matter, and suggesting death to all North Minneapolis cyclists. The usual.
  • iliketobike (which probably shows bias as a handle right there) reasonably suggests: “As an avid urban biker, I don’t see this making a difference. It isn’t really the speed limit that’s dangerous, its the mindset of drivers and cyclists.” The former is definitely represented in this comment section.

Score: 2.5 ?. The people being reasonable are very reasonable. I’m being charitable and having them balance out the people suggesting running over cyclists. For those of you who think I’m getting to be a softy, this may be the case. Read sufficient comment sections, lower your standards…

Additional observation!

Not sure if it’s how the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota publicized this, or how it got picked up, but there seems to be a low emphasis on the fact that the 30 MPH limit is set by state law. The Star Tribune mentions that Minneapolis has been interested in this law for a while, but it just doesn’t stick out that this is a state mandate. It could very easily be presented as state overreach in local affairs (plays well with a conservative base). As stated above, it seems “bicycle lobby” is showing up hard because it’s how the AP distribution of the story headlines the article. The very phrase is like a dog whistle for the “bikers are spandex hipsters who leech on society’s goodwill!” crowd, and the comments absolutely reflected that on the sites you’d expect it to do so (WCCO and Strib); that MPR had lower engagement and more coherence is no surprise.

And that the Pioneer Press hasn’t picked up the story yet? My liver is pretty grateful right now, and gives that 5 ? and hopes it stays that way.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!

60 thoughts on “We Read the Speed Limit Comments So You Don’t Have To

  1. Dana DeMasterDanaD

    We are “super pedestrians” able to leap a curb in a single bound, faster than a speeding (not sure what we’re faster than – a stroller? – some days I’ve beat the bus), and more powerful than a smug co-sleeping parent.

  2. Mase

    Would have been better had the articles actually focused on what you noted — speed limit is controlled by state law. Had the headline read “Group advocates for local control of local streets” I’m sure many of the commentators would have supported it.

  3. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    I wish there was a notion of state overreach, but as the state is sovereign and cities only exist as creations of state law, the state literally can dictate anything it wants (short of violations of federal law) to cities.

    1. Julie Kosbab Post author

      Right, but the 30mph minimum is pretty stupid, and pretty easy to sell as overreach into every suburb ever. There is no way most of the streets somewhere like, say, Blaine’s Lakes development (https://www.google.com/maps/@45.1868312,-93.1981111,16z), should be 30mph. The parkways, possibly. None of the other streets, though.

      (I know, saying “Blaine” is a dogwhistle here on Streets. This isn’t intended to be a debate on the planning of a development like this; it’s simply a good example because it combines Anoka County, residential, and a high-traffic park area that attracts MANY people not from the neighborhood, so much so that parking there is now permitted.)

      One of the main groups of legislators likely to resist lowering the floor would actually be the rural legislators, since they tend to want to raise limits on country roads — something else a lot of the “bike lobby” wouldn’t necessarily support, since many enjoy using those roads as well.

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        The suburbs really are the better case for this. For the most part people aren’t getting up to 30 mph on Minneapolis residential streets, where there are parked cars and frequent stops. But they probably are in, say, Bloomington.

        Although put me in the camp that thinks changing the signs won’t do much. Which isn’t necessarily a reason not to do it.

        1. Julie Kosbab Post author

          That said, I’m working on another post. A lot of suburban cul de sacs can already set to 25 mph under law, since there are some notable exceptions on the 30 mph rule that apply. So long as your residential street is under 1/4 mile long, you can drop to 25.

          Which is still too fast in my neighborhood, where the street I live on is probably under 1/4 mile long, depending on the definition. Given that it is less than 1/4 mile to a 4-lane road with a 45 mph speed limit, I like to imagine it is.

        2. Justin

          We should be aware that the 30 mph floor can be adjusted by MnDOT and often is. You can certainly find lower speed limits in many areas, particularly in the suburbs. Minneapolis streets just seldom have limits posted so the default is 30. And hitting 30 or higher is easy to do in many neighborhoods where it isn’t safe.

          1. Julie Kosbab Post author

            It can be, but save for codified exceptions (like the residential street under 0.25 miles long) it does require traffic study. So that can be a barrier.

            1. Adam FroehligAdam Froehlig

              Yes, but as I recall, there is a process in state law that allows a local municipality (or whatever the local jurisdiction is) to request that MnDOT conduct a traffic study. Unless I’m mistaken, MnDOT is required to honor those requests.

        3. Jeremy

          I agree that a mere change of the law won’t do much, as creating a law is one thing, but enforcing it is everything. There is vanishingly little in the way of traffic enforcement in Mpls to begin with, so putting another law on the books, no matter how wise or justified, is sadly moot.

          We need street design that changes behavior, because, for whatever reason, folks are unwilling or unable to comply with general traffic laws. And this includes speeding, which is rampant in Minneapolis. I see people going over 30 mph all the time. It’s a plague, and we need one or two of all of three things:

          1) A moral revolution in which people deem compliance with the law – and thus the change from 30mph to 25 or 20 – to be an ideal worth striving for;

          2) Proper and vigorous enforcement by MPD;

          3) Street design that encourages good behavior.

          Until then, we’ll have to deal with repulsive comments such as those highlighted here.

          1. Wayne

            I’m growing increasingly curious what MPD actually does other than rack up costs for misconduct lawsuits and make the news for having racist union leadership. They’re certainly not constantly responding to 911 calls, so what are they doing with the rest of their time ‘patrolling?’ I’ve seen so many blatant violations of road laws that put people in danger with a police car RIGHT THERE and they do nothing. In fact, they even are the ones doing it in some cases.

            So I’m way more into putting my faith in physical street designs to calm traffic and provide safe spaces for pedestrians. But the city doesn’t seem to care any more about that than they do about reigning in their police force and getting them to do the boring but necessary work of traffic enforcement.

            1. Jeremy

              I know, it’s galling. Funnily enough, I got pulled over on my bike a coupla months back because I ran a stop sign (going westbound on S 2nd St at Chicago Ave, right in front of Spoonriver, despite the fact that there was no conceivable cross traffic for me to get in the way of), and I said, “Oh, good to see you guys are actually enforcing the traffic laws. I don’t see much of that anymore.” The cop told me that the traffic unit had been disbanded four years ago. Why that would be the case is beyond me. If anyone has a clue as to why that happened, I’d love to hear it.

              I can guess it’s because, either

              1) Places like Ferguson, MO ticket speeders like crazy, and it often falls on the backs of poor people, who go further into poverty, and so the City of Minneapolis didn’t want to be one of those boogeymen, or;

              2) Cops are loath to do a traffic stop because it could quickly deteriorate if someone is non-compliant, and then they have to arrest the person (possibility of violence), book them, tow the car, and do a ton of paperwork. It’s their job, I know, but I’m just trying to get behind the mentality.

              Whatever the case, MPD is derelict in its duty to enforce traffic laws, for cars or bikes, though cars do infinitely more harm, so it’d be reasonable to start with them.

              1. Justin

                Wow, I did not know that they had a traffic unit that was disbanded. I’ve been complaining to CM Glidden and crime specialist Sue Roethele about the total lack of enforcement in my neighborhood and they told me that the MPD doesn’t do traffic enforcement. I was shocked, but I assumed that maybe this was always the case and I just wasn’t aware. I’m even more surprised that they actually had a unit and that they got rid of it.

                This is a problem and we should try to do something about it. I can’t believe a city just wouldn’t enforce traffic law at all.

              2. Jeremy Werst

                Huh. They still have it up on the website, but last updated in 2011. I’d like to know more about this, does anyone know who to ask at the city?

                Thought this was pretty telling:

                “Only hit and run cases with serious injuries or fatalities are investigated by the Accident Investigation Section.”

                I guess that would explain why so many of my friends that have been run off the road never had any investigation at all into their cases.


            2. Reilly

              Seconded. A couple of years back, I saw someone turn from the Sullivan’s lot and *start going the wrong way on Blaisdell*. No response from the MPD cruiser sitting right there…

            3. Monte Castleman

              If they apparently would rather sit around taking a nap rather than investigate auto burglaries you can hardly expect them to make an effort to write traffic citations.

              1. Jeremy

                Are auto burglaries super easy, or something? I should hope they (MPD) prioritize public safety over the losses of those who drive cars. Either way, one actually CAN expect them to enforce traffic laws, because that’s their job. The minute we stop expecting these things is the minute we sink into the morass that Chicagoans trudge through: there’s no point in trying to do anything, because the powers that be think we’re all chumbalones, and they’re not going to change. Shrug and move on.

                We can’t let that level of apathy and cynicism sink in here when we’re trying to make a safer, healthier, more fiscally responsible city, all of which is at cross purposes with car culture.

                1. Monte Castleman

                  It’s not that hard. Dust a car for fingerprints. If a match if found throw the thug in jail.

                  Besides discouraging suburbanites from entering the city to spend money (do you think my friend is ever going to another event at Target Center when he was told “It’s the city, what do you expect, go call this number and file a report?), it would seem to burden city residents disproportionately, since they’re the ones that often lack enclosed off-street parking and leave their cars on the street.

                  1. Jeremy

                    Sure, fine. But I wouldn’t prioritize it over public safety, which the flouting of traffic laws directly endangers. Having your car burlgarized is a relative inconvenience compared to having a car run over your kid while crossing the street.

                    1. Justin

                      That’s the thing, in our car centered culture, traffic laws aren’t a big deal at all. It’s considered more of a crime to damage a person’s car and steal from it the to knowingly break traffic laws that can get someone killed.

                      Even something like DUI. What will ruin your life more, as an adult: being busted for DUI or being busted for breaking into cars?

        4. Rosa

          that’s not at all true. I make a real effort to drive the speed limit on Minneapolis city streets and it is so far below norm on Cedar, Bloomington, Minnehaha, 26th Ave, and other places I routinely drive that I get people tailgating, honking, and veering over into the parking or bike lane to go around me.

          It’s like stopping to let pedestrians cross the street, or not turning while someone is walking across where you’re going to turn (try that on Lake Street sometime.)

          1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

            That’s where the “for the most part” come in. Yeah, on the major through streets people get to 30 and higher all the time, but drive down one of the parallel “residential” street they don’t.

            1. Rosa

              if those are all “major through streets” where we shouldn’t expect cars to follow rules, there’s a “major through street” about every 4-8 blocks (say – Franklin, 26th, 28th, Lake, 35th, 38th, 42nd, 50th. It’s even worse Northside I think, but I’m not up there often enough to name all the busy streets.) That’s an awful lot of the city to cede to illegal high speeds even before you get to the space taken up by highways and highway-feeding streets.

              1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                Not at all sure what you are responding to.

                I said that reducing speed limits to 25 makes even more sense for suburbs, where even “quiet” residential streets probably see speed up to 30 mph more frequently – because they’re typically too wide, too long between stops and have no parked cars – than Minneapolis streets.

                Also, you left off 46th. 😉

                1. Rosa

                  responding to the idea that “for the most part” people aren’t driving over 30 on Minneapolis residential streets – all those through streets you’re excepting are residential streets that people speed on all the time, and that people spend the most time driving on.

                  I’m sure the ‘burbs are worse, but if they’re less dense it affects the safety of fewer people.

  4. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

    The reporting failed this issue so bad. Either this was highlighted as a desire by cyclists for cyclists, or somehow missed that the state prevents residential streets from having slow speed for cars.

    No one bothered to interrogate officials about why states next to us are pleased with using 25 as a limit. All we got was an unchallenged “but no one obeys signs anyway”.

    I’m reaching strong levels of anger about this and I’m apologizing to everyone near me if this issue gets brought up. The ignorance is too much and I’m boiling over now. People not able to see past their distaste and hate of a few sporty bicyclists that they are happy to cut off their nose to spite their face.

    1. Wayne

      If we had a real pedestrian lobby it would be 150% behind this too.

      Also I think there’s a class war element to it too. They think people on bikes are all spending $2000 on their bike and probably dealt with a smug jerk at one point so they assume everyone on a bike is a dirty hipster with a trust fund or a 1%-er laughing at them slogging to work and paying for gas.

      But yeah, don’t you dare *ever* suggest they either:
      1) actually pay for the cost of their roads instead of getting a hand-out from society
      2) slow down so they stop killing people (their time is clearly more valuable than your life)

      Because if you do either of those things you will incur the wrath of a million screaming jerks who have no regard for their fellow man and can barely tolerate existing in a society despite relying heavily on the infrastructure it provides.

    2. Julie Kosbab Post author

      I’m tempted to reach out to Dorian Grilley and Nick Mason at BikeMN and ask them what happened here, because while they are a bike lobby, they’re both smart gentlemen who know that “bike lobby” is the worst kind of media dogwhistle. They are also coalition builders, which is to say that even if the “bike lobby” takes the lead, they wouldn’t be going alone.

  5. Wayne

    Americans are so angry these days and like 90% of it revolves around their car and other people in the way of their car. I feel like if we hadn’t built a nation completely dependent on automobiles we’d be a lot more civil.

    1. Sarah B Danks

      That’s an extremely intriguing point of view…I’d never thought of it that way before. I should have, however, since I grew up “in the country” and things are a lot more relaxed (still) back home.

      Every time I drive in the country I can feel myself relaxing — is it because there are less cars/traffic on the roads, or is it a different way of life?

      OR, or is it because there are virtually no bikes? 😉 Ha. Sorry, had to.

  6. Justin

    Minneapolis, bikes, and laws….perfect storm for the Strib comment section. If this didn’t involve a bike lobby group I bet the comment number alone would be cut in half.

  7. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    Good article Julie.

    Though I don’t agree with most of the anti-bike comments, I do understand where they’re coming from. It is quite frustrating to be stuck behind a bunch of cyclists and then routinely experiencing other cyclists completely blow stop signs or stop lights when they do not have right-of-way only adds to the irritation.

    From a drivers standpoint, in the suburbs anyway, it does often feel like many cyclists, and these are indeed most often lycra clad, view themselves as God’s gift to mankind and that everyone else should stay out of their way and bow to their wishes. There are relatively few people riding bicycles compared to people driving and so all people riding bicycles often get lumped together as ‘cyclists’. Fortunately this is changing somewhat. There is a very noticeable difference in how I’m treated when riding a city bike in jeans and how much worse I’m treated when on my road bike in lycra.

    We need to reduce the conflict. Hopefully one day all people riding bicycles, whether lycra clad cyclists or someone riding to lunch in jeans, can be well regarded by all. Or at least not looked upon with disdain.

    More: https://streets.mn/2014/07/27/conflict-fear-and-not-sharing/

    1. Julie Kosbab Post author

      For all that we all enjoy mocking Anoka County** for various things, I’ve been treated with great respect on the roads of Anoka County while pulling various forms of child carrier.

      ** where I am a tax payer

      1. Thomas Mercier

        Pulling a child carrier is the way to get motorists to maintain the minimum 3 ft. distance when passing you. I used to enjoy taking it all the way to work with me after dropping the kid off at daycare just for the added safety.

  8. GlowBoy

    As a refugee from Portland’s bikelash I can’t even bear to read the summary of the comments. I already know what they say.

    When this story first hit the media the other day, my first thought was: why NOW?! By now, I mean January. When it’s been below zero. Not many people are out walking, even fewer are cycling. Almost everybody is huddled in their cars and sees the few active types as seriously insane or at least annoying.

    If there’s a time when Minnesotans would be least sympathetic to the concerns of those not in cars, this would be it. It would have been much better to announce this in May, when it’s nice out, people are walking and biking everywhere in large visible numbers, and people still in cars are contemplating it: either seriously thinking about getting outside themselves, or lamenting that it’s too “dangerous” to do so. I think it would be a lot easier to make the case to the public then.

    Despite the timing, I’d still like to see 25mph happen. Coming from Oregon, where most side streets are 25mph and business districts are 20 (!), the speeds on some of the streets here are a big shock to me. 25 is a lot more humane. It would make a lot of business districts more pedestrian friendly and thus more successful.

    I don’t buy the enforcement argument against the change. Yes, enforcement is lax and many people already exceed 30 mph. But … those going 35 mph will now be going 10 mph over the limit instead of 5. Increasing the over-the-limit amount of existing speeders by 5 mph presents that much more of a case for enforcement, makes it easier for cops to prove it, and makes it look worse to insurance companies. Even on freeways, the posted limit does have a measurable effect on actual driver speed (while increasing the limit by 10mph doesn’t mean everyone drives 10mph faster, but still a few mph faster), and I think that’s even more true on city streets than freeways.

    BTW, I have noticed a number of roads in Minneapolis with 25 mph limits: Minnehaha Parkway, St. Anthony Parkway and I think the parkways around the lakes are all 25. Is there a specific exception in state law for parkways? These are all MPRB owned, I think. Despite their parkway status, the former are significant traffic corridors and people seem to handle the lower speed limit just fine.

    The point I wish would be made more is that 30 mph, or 25 mph, or whatever, is the speed *limit*. In town, most drivers actually spend a fairly small share of the time going the speed limit. Most of the time they are stopped at lights, waiting for cars in front of them, accelerating from a stop, decelerating from a stop or otherwise going less than the speed limit.

    In other words, a speed limit decrease from 30 to 25 will *NOT* increase a typical 25 minute car trip across town to 30 minutes. It would add a minute or two, at most. The difference it makes in safety and livability is far bigger than the difference it makes in people’s time.

    But I guess I can only hope for so much open-mindedness in a place where people are screaming bloody murder about how highway 169 is going to close later this year, even though MnDOT is making an effort to finish 100 and 494 first, and equally angry that it won’t reopen with 4 lanes each direction. Despite that the bikelash is weaker here than in Oregon, I’m often astounded at Minnesota drivers’ sense of entitlement to free-flowing roadways, no matter what. Let them spend a year in Seattle and see how bad they think they have it here.

    1. Julie Kosbab Post author

      BTW, I have noticed a number of roads in Minneapolis with 25 mph limits: Minnehaha Parkway, St. Anthony Parkway and I think the parkways around the lakes are all 25. Is there a specific exception in state law for parkways? These are all MPRB owned, I think. Despite their parkway status, the former are significant traffic corridors and people seem to handle the lower speed limit just fine.

      There are exceptions. Park roads can be reduced (with MnDOT approval and traffic study). Any roadway, actually, can be reduced by recommendation of MnDOT following traffic study, in fact. The roads you mention are pretty major, and thus likely to be studied. The challenge is that less flashy roads are also subject to the traffic study requirements.

      I’m doing a follow-up post on the topic, actually.

      1. Wayne

        On the one hand I like that they keep slow speed limits. On the other hand, why exactly is the park board in charge of building and maintaining roads in the first place? They already can’t keep up maintaining the parks themselves.

        Also, people use (used? are they even open anymore?) the river parkways like highways for commuting and that was scary and dangerous and (once again) not really enforced on the speed limit side of things.

        1. Justin

          I don’t know how much they have anything to do with construction or maintenance of roads, but they probably have some say over the speed limit.

          1. Jeremy Werst

            I think that they’re actually at least in charge of snow removal. They are on many of the bike trails. So sometimes you’ll see a trail that’s totally clear go to unplowed because you transition from where it’s the responsibility of the city after that. Or vice versa. It all depends on when they actually get out.

    2. Dana DeMasterDanaD

      The timing is most likely related to the start of the legislative session in March. If groups (like the bike lobby) want to get bills authored it has to be now, not in June. January to March is advocacy season.

      1. Julie Kosbab Post author

        They haven’t announced this year’s bike summit yet I don’t believe. That’s usually the roll-out for the citizen advocacy portion of things.

        There wasn’t a press release, so I’m not sure how this got rolling, let alone in the press as “bike lobby!”

  9. David MarkleDavid Markle

    If the legislature gets serious about urban speed limits, it ought to consider this:
    a good opportunity to also establish a state-wide 5 mph speed limit on sidewalks.

    The 5 mph speed limit should also apply to those who use intersection crosswalks. This would help deal with the fact that while cross walk users (including those on bicycles, etc.) usually have the right-of-way, a motorist proceeding at 25 mph may have little warning or time to react when a cyclist or runner speeds across the street in a crosswalk. In other words, at present there’s an unreasonable liability problem for motorists at crosswalks.

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      Ah yeah, that’s why there’s the old saying “If you want to kill someone legally, do it with a car.” Because there’s an unreasonable liability problem… for motorists.

    2. Wayne

      If someone ‘runs’ across the street … in a crosswalk … with the signal … and you hit them with your car, it’s not at all unreasonable for you to be liable for that. You’re the one operating the deadly piece of heavy machinery, it’s on you to be careful in places where you should expect other users to be present. Even if you don’t see them immediately, you should always be more careful. There’s no excuse, and penalizing people outside of cars for being squishy and prone to death when run over isn’t the right approach.

    3. GlowBoy

      Oregon makes sure that the pain of this “problem” lies on cyclists instead of motorists by rescinding their ROW if they enter the crosswalk at “above a walking pace”. It’s legal to ride any speed you want in a crosswalk, but if a car hits you, you’re screwed.

      In the real world, you’re screwed if you get hit by a car in a crosswalk even if you entered with the utmost care. Because 1: (by definition) the motorist will not have seen you coming, and will swear up and down that you raced up out of nowhere, and 2: no jury will ever believe a cyclist entered a crosswalk at a walking pace, even if you did.

      1. Wayne

        Jury–ha! You’ll probably be dead and the police will never press charges anyway. None of these people ever get to court unless they’re wasted and/or leave the scene. ):

      2. Jeremy Werst

        They’re a lot better about enforcement for pedestrians, though, aren’t they? I was out there this summer and my stepdad told me that they often have stings (with city / state officials participating) where they pull over and ticket motorists that don’t stop for someone walking in the road.

        IIRC, he said that the instant that you put a foot into the crosswalk, it’s illegal not to stop…

        1. GlowBoy

          I wouldn’t say the police in Portland expend a lot of effort ticketing drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians*, but drivers are definitely better about it. I’d say that at unmarked crosswalks, typically only a quarter to a third of drivers will stop, but compared to some places where you could grow old waiting, that’s not bad.

          * When I lived in Seattle I once watched a cop pull someone over for not stopping while I was waiting to cross a major street. But it’s important to bear in mind that *all* pedestrian laws are enforced in Seattle, including jaywalking (which I’ve never heard of being enforced to any degree in Portland). I’ve seen Seattle cops ticket pedestrians for it on multiple occasions. Outside Scandinavia, Seattle is the only place I’ve been where you will see pedestrians waiting for the light to change – in the rain – when no cars are coming.

    4. GlowBoy

      When I’m driving (which I do a fair amount), when I’m making a turn I always make a point of checking a ways down the crosswalk that I’m moving across – further than I think most drivers check – *precisely* because I know a runner might be crossing my path.

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