For Safety Sake: Enforce the Speed Limit – Don’t Raise It.
Raising speed limits raises speeds – putting all road users at higher risk of injury and fatality.
On Thursday, June 21st, the Jamestown Traffic Commission will consider a request to raise the speed limit on North Main Road from 25mph to 35mph. The Commission invites all interested users of the road to attend. The meeting takes place at 6pm at Jamestown Town Hall, 93 Narragansett Avenue.
Thanks to the Commission Chair Thomas Tighe and to the Jamestown Press for alerting the community to this discussion and inviting response from all road users. How you can share your perspective if you cannot attend is included at the end of this post.
The resident submitting the request cited the inconvenience of the 25mph limit – and the fact that motorists already travel at the higher speed anyway – as reasons to raise the limit. In the best interest of all users of this road and their safety, we ask the Commission to decline this request and instead consider ways to enforce the speed limit at 25mph.
The natural and historic beauty of Conanicut Island makes Jamestown a popular destination for people driving, walking and bicycling. In spite of having no sidewalks and no shoulder, North Main Road is a favored road for bicyclists and pedestrians alike. On the Newport County Bicycle Map, North Main Road is identified as a suitable road (from the south to 138) and most suitable road (north of 138). In the very first statewide Bicycle Mobility Plan currently in the works by RI Statewide Planning, the full length of North Main Road is recommended as a favored bicycle route with advisory bike lanes.
Additionally, the Town of Jamestown has committed to construct a bike/pedestrian pathway along North Road from West Passage to the North Reservoir, that will link with a cross island shared path across reservoir property to Eldred Avenue. There is also a pilot bridge shuttle service for bicyclists beginning on June 30th that will transport bicyclists between North Kingstown, Jamestown and Newport. All of these programs promise support, access, and attraction to people biking and walking on Conanicut Island, and specifically on North Main Road.
Here’s what we know:
- With a posted speed limit of 25mph, actual speeds on North Main Road currently average 35-40mph
- Raising the speed limit to 35mph will likely raise the speed of cars to 45-50mph or higher
- This scenic rural road is a primary route for large numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians
- There are no sidewalks and no shoulders on this road
- There is little to no enforcement of the current speed limit.
- The NTSB* 2017 Speeding study found that speeding and how fast you’re traveling is a significant factor in crashes and that 55% of speeding related crashes occur in rural environments and 35% of fatal crashes on rural local roads involved speeding passenger vehicles (*National Transportation Safety Board)
- The NACTO* study on speed and injury severity in 2010 concluded that crash fatalities increase dramatically when speeds exceed 30mph for all road users. (*National Association of City Transportation Officials)
- Raising the speed limit will increase risk and endanger the lives of all road users.
- At 25mph, it takes a car 4.8 minutes to travel the two miles of North Main Road.
- At 35mph, it takes a car 3.4 minutes to travel the two miles of North Main Road.
- At 40mph, it takes a car 3 minutes to travel the two miles of North Main Road.
Please consider attending this important discussion to share your experience and perspective. If you cannot attend, please feel free to send your comments to Clare Woodhead, firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share them with the Commission. You can also send your comments directly to Thomas Tighe, Chair of the Traffic Commission at email@example.com.
Thanks to all for considering the safety of all road users as the highest priority.