There’s a stretch of Shore Drive (US 60) not far from these parts which has seen 10 pedestrian fatalities in the past eight years.
Now the city is lowering the speed limit from 45 to 35 for the stretch in question.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously instructed staffers to reduce the speed limit on the busy road to 35 mph from 45 mph. The change will affect the four-mile stretch of Shore Drive between Pleasure House Road and North Great Neck Road.
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I spent 45 minutes googling (well, actually I was startpaging because Startpage is more secure) for statistics on the causes of pedestrian accidents. I found one link to a study (PDF) regarding the relationship of speed and pedestrian injuries (the faster the vehicle, the more severe the pedestrian injuries; duh.), but mostly the search was overwhelmed by
ambulance chasers personal injury attorney websites and safety brochures.
The eastern end of the stretch in question, the most dangerous portion of it, is lined with houses, condos, apartments, eateries, and little shopping centers; most of the accidents have happened late at night and involved persons crossing the road to get to another nightspot or to go home.
The road is four lanes, sometimes increasing to eight at intersections with left and right turn lanes; it’s one of three major roads connecting Norfolk and Virginia Beach and consequently heavily travelled. Even at a crosswalk in daylight, a pedestrian with a green light can take the duration of the green to get across the road. (I watched one just Monday as she was heading toward the beach.)
Crosswalks are few and far between, especially in the most hazardous area, which is also the area most cluttered with shops and eateries. Depending on the starting and end points, using a crosswalk could add as much as 15 or 20 minutes to crossing the road.
I hope that lowering the speed limit helps, though I fear it won’t.
I suspect that visibility, the distance between crosswalks, and the width of the highway has more to do with the accident rate than does the speed limit.
I wish I weren’t so pessimistic, but I would place more more hope in a crosswalk or two with on-demand stoplights.