For years, this website has promoted the organizaton, "Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25". In fact, the creator of this website served as one of the St. Louis area contacts for the program. Keep Kids Alive is a fine program, and STL Rising will continue to serve as a local representative. However, for the city of St. Louis, we believe an even further reduction in speed limits on neighborhood streets is worth a look.
STL Rising proposes reducing the maximum legal speed on neighborhood streets to 18 miles per hour. We propose 18 mph as a universal, city-wide standard for neighborhood streets. If this seems extreme, let's examine some of the thinking behind the idea.
The city of St. Louis is endowed with thousands of miles of streets layed out on a fine urban street grid. When it snows, most neighborhood streets are not plowed. Besides the cost, the reason neighborhood streets are not plowed is that they are too narrow. Snow would be piled over the cars. So instead, drivers must navigate the ruts of snow and ice out of their neighborhood. The consolation of this situation is that no driver is never more than two blocks from a plowed street. This same situation would apply to a program of reduced speed limits.
If speed limits on neighborhood streets were reduced to 18 miles per hour, no driver would be more than two blocks away from a wider, busier, street with speed limits of 25-35 miles per hour. The net result of the change awould be a negligible delay in people's drive times, but a huge increase in neighborhood quality of life.
Slower travelling cars on neighborhood streets means quieter streets. It means safer streets, and it means more peaceful neighborhoods. A universal speed limit would be easy to understand - it applies to all neighborhood streets.
An ordinance could be passed that unless otherwise posted, all streets in the city limits of St. Louis have a maximum allowable speed of 18 miles per hour. This approach makes it possible to avoid the cost of changing posted speed limit signs. If a block wanted to install their own 18 mph speed limit sign, they would have the option of paying for the cost on their block.
St. Louis has a fantastic street grid, great for walking, lined with beautiful matures tree lined streets, and which presents our wonderful historic neighborhoods. Why not take advantage of this natural asset by making our streets even more friendly and safe by lowering speed limits on neighborhood streets to a max of 18 miles per hour?