Congressperson Asks Americans To Drive Slower

One of Congress' newest members sees it fitting that Americans should drive slower to save fuel - an appropriate sacrifice for a war she sees partly waged for oil. Her first bill, HR 6458, lowers speed limits to 60/65 mph (urban/rural areas).

August 21, 2008, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


"Speier wasted no time announcing her presence. On her first day, April 10, the Hillsborough (CA) Democrat was booed on the House floor by Republicans who objected to her speech about the specter of a 100-year U.S. engagement in Iraq: "History will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one."

"If there is a political polar opposite of a Mother's Day resolution, it is trying to regulate how Americans drive. Speier has done just that with her very first bill, which would set a national speed limit of 60 mph in cities and 65 mph in rural areas.

"It's like guns - don't mess with my car, my Harley or my gun," Speier observed. "I know it's not going to make me a lot of friends, but I didn't go there for that reason."

"It might seem like an uphill climb in view of America's car culture, but Speier attacks it with relish. She notes the relatively small differences in travel times between 70 mph and 60 mph, against the potential savings of more than 2,000 lives and the reduction in this nation's carbon footprint and dependence on imported oil. Speier contends the lower speed limit (and corresponding drop in fuel consumption) would have far more near-term impact on gas prices than the other plans (offshore drilling, alternative fuel incentives) that have been kicking around in the House.

In the larger picture, Speier goes back to the subject of the speech she made on her first day in Congress: the war in Iraq, which has claimed 4,500 U.S. lives and has consumed more than $10 billion a month."

"Part of our reason for going there was oil," she said. Many Americans, she said, have not felt a direct sacrifice of the war. A reduced speed limit would be at least a small sacrifice, or, as Speier put it, "an act of patriotism."

Office of Congresswoman Speier: HR 6458: Establishing a National 60 mph Speed Limit
Oakland Tribune: 60 mph limit gaining speed
U.S. D.O.E.: Driving More Efficiently
AP: Senator asks if nation's drivers should slow down
Planetizen: Lowering The Speeding Limit To Improve Air Quality

Sunday, August 17, 2008 in The San Francisco Chronicle

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

A Gold Line AnsaldoBreda P2550 train enters Mission Station in South Pasadena on February 25, 2012.

Land Banking to Prevent Transit-Oriented Displacement in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will implement a new land banking program to mitigate gentrification and displacement around future transit lines.

June 28, 2022 - Los Angeles Daily News

View looking down on construction of multiple buildings in San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center District

San Francisco to Reconsider Inclusionary Zoning as Development Slows to a Crawl

Critics of inclusionary zoning frequently point to San Francisco as an example of what not to do. A sluggish year of development has some local politicians ready to reconsider the city’s program.

July 4 - San Francisco Chronicle

110-10 Interchange

California Senate Committee Kills Freeway Expansion Bill

The proposed legislation would have prohibited new construction in historically underserved areas that often bear the burnt of the negative impacts of freeways.

July 4 - Streetsblog California

Person standing under sign that says "Moab Made" in downtown Moab, Utah.

Initiative Brings Capacity Building to Booming Rural Towns

A research and capacity building initiative based at Utah State University seeks to help fast-growing tourist meccas in the West plan for smart growth.

July 4 - High Country News

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Affordable Housing: Principles for Changing Domestic and Global Markets

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.