Is Lowering the Speed Limit the Best Way to Improve Street Safety?

In the aftermath of recent pedestrian fatalities, a lot of attention has been placed on lowering speed limits across New York City to improve safety. But the city's former traffic commissioner argues that other approaches would be more effective.

January 30, 2014, 5:00 AM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"Today, there’s an outcry to lower speed limits to combat pedestrian fatalities," writes Sam Schwartz in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. "Wouldn’t it be great if just putting up signs worked? But it probably won’t."

Schwartz casts doubt on the effectiveness of reducing speeds across the city, and suggests seven tactics to improve street safety (including targeted 20-mph speed limits): 

  • Targeted [speed] reductions
  • Speed cameras
  • Crunching the numbers
  • Analyze every crash
  • Step up DUI enforcement
  • Focus on the true culprits
  • Design, design, design


Wednesday, January 29, 2014 in New York Daily News

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.