Lower speed limits, wider lanes won't fix the GW Parkway
It was designed as a scenic, recreational "gateway" to Washington, but the George Washington Parkway has become a major commuter highway
The National Park Service is taking the traffic engineer's approach: add merge lanes, expand ramps, and widen shoulders to cut down on conflicts. But they've drawn the line against changes like high-powered lighting that cuts against the "parkway" character. The article quotes police who wish people would only obey the 50-mph speed limit (the average speed is more like 65).
The ramp-wideners and speed-limit-enforcers, as is often the case, are thinking about the road the wrong way around. Speed limits don't meaningfully reduce speeds. People drive at the speed that their instincts tell them is appropriate for the road. When we widen a ramp, it only makes people feel a little more comfortable driving a little faster, negating the safety value.
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