Your View: Lower speed limits will improve safety along Quaker and Seminary

Your View: Lower speed limits will improve safety along Quaker and Seminary

By Jim Durham, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
I recently met a neighbor who required physical therapy for 18 months as a result of being rear-ended by a high-speed vehicle while she turned into her driveway.

Up the street, another neighbor witnessed a high-speed vehicle lose control and jump the curb, taking out a road sign and crashing into her stone wall. That neighbor no longer lets her children walk to school. These two crashes occurred on Quaker Lane.

Residents tell of similar experiences on Seminary Road, with people taken to the hospital and telephone poles taken down from high-speed crashes. You can read these stories and more at the Make Our Streets Safe Facebook page:

City staff informed us that reported crash rates along these roads are among the highest in Alexandria: more than 60 crashes were reported on each street in the past five years and many crashes that concern us are not reported.

Do you see many people walk along or across Seminary Road or Quaker Lane? Not many do — mostly school children on their way home, or those who take the bus. Who wants to risk their lives walking directly next to 45 miles per hour and faster traffic? Is it any surprise that residents recently petitioned the city for 25 mph speed limits, $200 fines and education and enforcement?

This petition was signed by 267 Alexandria residents, including people representing 96 percent of households on Seminary Road and Quaker Lane.

Seminary Road and Quaker Lane residents and neighbors also are concerned about congestion, but that is a broader issue, with difficult challenges that should be addressed separately.

“Won’t 25 mph speed limits make congestion worse?” some asked. No, because congestion is caused by intersection throughput limitations, not vehicle speeds between intersections. Will lower speed limits push traffic onto nearby streets, such as West Taylor Run Parkway?  Not really. West Taylor Run Parkway provides a route that is four to six minutes faster than Quaker Lane at rush hour because of the backup from Duke Street and Telegraph Road. Speed limits are insignificant during those back-ups.

On March 25, the city implemented and enforced 25 mph speed limits on Seminary Road and Quaker Lane. Residents on and near these streets will greatly appreciate you understanding our safety concerns, and we ask that you drive 25 mph to make our streets safe.