City-wide 25 mph is overrated

3ten photoEveryone knows that traffic in Decatur is terrible. Although the amount of potential traffic jams in a four-square mile town seems slim, this is far from the truth.

According to the City of Decatur (CSD) website, the city’s population density is “over 4,500 residents per square mile.” This does not factor in an outside influx of people.

Drivers cut through Decatur everyday to get to work in Atlanta, making it difficult for Decatur city citizens to navigate quickly. Teenagers that live less than two miles away spend 10 minutes each morning driving to DHS.

Some days, when a wreck on I-85 or I-285 causes Atlantans to take their Decatur route, students could walk to and from school quicker than they could drive.

Imagining worse traffic conditions is unbearable but realistic, based on future plans. Over half of Decatur’s population is currently pushing for a change in speed limits, proposing a city-wide 25 mph campaign. Major 35 mph roads, like Commerce, Clairemont, South Candler, College and West Howard, would decrease by 10 mph.

Now, think about not only how much time this would tack on to daily driving schedules, but also the high probability of speeding through Decatur.

Luckily, the city does not have the power to modify speed limits on Scott Boulevard because it’s a state road. People already drive 55 mph on Scott, a 40 mph road. Thinking about changing the speed limit to 25 sounds ridiculous.

Many licensed students are opposed to the campaign’s proposal. Junior Camille Lascala said that changing the signs will not affect the habits of most drivers.

“People are still going to go 35, or even 45 mph,” she said.

Similarly, junior Matilda McNeely, when informed of this campaign, could only muster the words, “that’s dumb.”

The CSD website stated that this change should “improve conditions to support the community’s vision of Decatur as a safe, walkable and bike-friendly place for all ages.” Still, when was the last time a person was hit while walking?

Also, the website listed “Significant interest among residents in issues related to traffic calming” as one of the reasons for this project, but “calming” seems highly unlikely here.

Check out DecaturMetro and Decaturish for status updates on the campaign.