Proposed speed limit reductions to enhance pedestrian safety

Proposed speed limit reductions to enhance pedestrian safety
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Now that the Tucson City Council has voted to lower the speed limits to make them uniform on Columbus from north to south, a move is underway to lower speed limits on Pima Street as well.

The proposal to lower the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour from Columbus to Craycroft is being made to enhance pedestrian safety.

The move comes after a record number of pedestrian fatalities in 2017 and a record setting pace for 2018.

Several studies has shown lower speeds increase the likelihood a pedestrian will survive if they are struck by a moving vehicle. Many cities have voted to lower neighborhood speed limits to 25 mph for that reason.

Most Tucson neighborhoods are already 25 mph, but many streets that are not major arterials are marked 35 mph.

A new report shows pedestrian deaths nationwide have exceeded 6,000 for the second consecutive year, the highest in 25 years.

There are no sidewalks along several parts of Pima which causes unique problems for pedestrians.

Ana Cepero is pushing her baby stroller with traffic along Pima in the paved bike lane. The stroller's wheels don't work in the gravel so she has no choice.

"It gets scary," she said. "Sidewalks would be a good idea."

But when the subject of speed comes up, she gets more animated.

"You're constantly hearing people say f-u, get out of the way," she said. "No, pay attention where you're going. You can see we're walking here, you're in a car and we're walking."

There are several schools in the neighborhood and when they let out in the early afternoon, parents and students stream across Pima in both directions.

Where Pima and Catalina meet is especially dangerous, since it is a block from an elementary school and even though it's an intersection with plenty of good traffic, there are no white pavement markings.

People race from side to side, oftentimes grasping their children's hands and dragging them across the busy roadway.

There are also no street lights along the roadway making it difficult to see pedestrians.

"Walking at night here you're taking good your life in your hands," said Lois Pawlak, the head of the Garden District Neighborhood Association.  "You can't see anyone in dark clothing."

Pawlak is leading the move to lower the speed limits but she'd also like sidewalks and streetlights as well.

"We have lower income and because of that people can't afford cars," she said. "We have a lot of walkers."

She also believes by lowering the speed limit to make it uniform, since some areas are 30 and others 35, it would make it easier for drivers too.

"To not be consistent around town, gives uncertainty to drivers," she said. "It makes it definitely more dangerous for pedestrians."

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