Design for speed, collect the dough
Maryland is considering a bill to allow more speed cameras throughout the state. Supporters argue that the goal is safety, while opponents claim that local jurisdictions use the cameras more as a revenue tool than anything else. They're both right.
Lon Anderson, director of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, felt that Chevy Chase had taken advantage of the pilot program by designating Connecticut Avenue, a six-lane boulevard that leads into Washington, as a "neighborhood street." Last year, the city reported $1.2 million dollars in earnings from the cameras, he said.I actually agree with Lon this time. Chevy Chase, and Montgomery in general, has created a double standard with Connecticut. On the one hand, it's a huge, six-lane road with
The average driver would argue that we need a higher speed limit. Maybe. But there's another side to this coin: If the road didn't feel like such a freeway, people would drive slower even without the speed traps. As soon as drivers cross into DC, they slow down. That's not because the speed limit drops, but because the road feels slower. Lanes are narrower. Buildings come right up to the sidewalk. All of the visual cues tell drivers that this is a 25- or 30-mph area instead of a 50-mph area.
If Montgomery County or Chevy Chase Village wants a 30-mph neighborhood street, they ought to design one. Unfortunately, Montgomery is moving the opposite direction. The recent Road Code, which our buddy Lon helped write, bans trees in the medians of boulevards to avoid narrowing drivers' fields of vision. The longer sight lines from treeless medians encourages faster driving. If Maryland officials are serious about slowing traffic instead of just raking in the dough in Chevy Chase, they'd allow trees and start slowing drivers by designing slower streets from the start.
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