35 MPH?

Riding a bicycle has changed my life.

It hasn’t just changed my physical condition, that’s still a work in progress.  It has changed how I feel about a variety of things.  It has helped me to realize that I don’t have to be “the out of shape fat guy”.  I can ride 60 miles in a day.  I realize that when properly prepared, a little weather is not a big deal.

I am working toward being car-free.  It will be a few years, but I will get there.  However, the way that I drive now has been affected by bicycling.  I’m more cautious.  I drive under the speed limit most of the time.  I’m never in a hurry when behind the wheel anymore.  It’s not worth the stress or the risk.

There are a number of ideas thrown around by bicyclists to get laws changed, from the good ideas, to unworkable ideas such as banning cars.

I have an idea.  It’s unworkable, but let’s pretend it’s not.

  • Maximum speed limit: 35 MPH (other than interstates)
  • Residential speed limit: 20 MPH
  • Speeding – first offense: large fine
  • Speeding – second offense: loss of driving privileges for 5 years
  • Reckless driving or driving without a license – jail and loss of driving privileges for life

I would assume that most people reading this think I’m off of my rocker.  That’s not true.  This idea will not happen.  I don’t even think the level of federal government control required to pull it off nationwide would be a good idea, but think of the benefits.

  • Fewer traffic deaths
  • Better gas mileage
  • Less stress while driving
  • Less pollution
  • Traffic control becomes less about revenue, and more about saving lives

Everyone I’ve talked to about this thinks it’s a bad idea.  Most people get angry.  Between my house and work, there is a nine-mile stretch of road with a 55 MPH speed limit.  If that stretch of road had a 35 MPH speed limit it would take less than five additional minutes to get to work.  If I average 25 MPH (including the stops through town) I can go the 16 miles to work in just over 38 minutes.

I do drive slower now.  I don’t drive 35 in a 55, that might be a bit extreme.  I drive 50 in a 55.  People pass me recklessly.  This is on a four-lane divided highway where passing is easy.  They get angry because I’m not “going the speed limit”.  Everyone seems to forget that it’s an upper limit, not a lower limit.

When I’m on a bike, travelling between 12 and 20 MPH they really get angry, even when I get out of the way when it’s safe to do so.

6 thoughts on “35 MPH?”

  1. Hey I havn’t visited the site in a while. I am up in Jeffersontown, Ky this weekend and was wondering if you biked on these cold mornings. I am laid off at the time i havn’t been biked on these cold mornings but I remember last winter when i did…. It makes you feel alive and def. wakes you up. Keep up the good work.

  2. I biked into work on Monday. That’s the only time I’ve ridden since starting my new job on Thursday of last week.

    Monday wasn’t as cold as it had been, but it was raining. I intended to ride again this week, but it just didn’t happen.

  3. I rode the Raleigh to work today, so I DID get to ride to work one day this week. I’ve GOT to fix the brakes on the Vanguard–they are really noisy right now, and it irritates me no end.

    At least I’ll have an alternative to over-eating this time. Well, I usually HAVE alternatives to overeating, but don’t always take those alternate paths…

  4. I have a friend that has the same idea you metioned, I think his max on the interstate would be 45 mph, otherwise 35 mph. For all the same resons you mention, plus he thinks cars could be built much cheaper with smaller engines and cutback on some saftey features. It would take much less to survive an impact at 35 vs 75…

    Even if current speed limit laws where inforced with the same gravity of punishment as you prescribe it would help…

    Maybe not so unworkable.

  5. Mark,

    So I’m not the only weirdo with that idea?

    A friend of mine bought an ’86 Chevy Sprint new. Horrible car, but it got incredible mileage and could haul around a family of four. The new “Smart” car can’t get the mileage, or haul four people. The expensive hybrids can’t match the mileage of that lowly Sprint either. It would never pass today’s crash and emissions standards though.

  6. That’s spot on. Ever since I started using a bicycle to get around (commuting, running errands, visiting friends, etc), my life and views have changed dramatically. I used to somewhat enjoy driving, but now it freaks me out. When I do drive anymore, I almost never go the speed limit; usually about 5-10 mph under it actually. I agree that speed limits these days within city limits are ridiculously high. I think all in city speed limits should be 35 tops, and usually less than that. Driving is just too dangerous.

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