Alexandria Letter: Make Our Streets Safe

Alexandria Letter: Make Our Streets Safe

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

On March 25, speed limits on Seminary Road and N. Quaker Lane are planned to change from 35 mph to 25 mph to help Make Our Streets Safe. As a Seminary Road resident, I ask for others in Alexandria to support this change; please drive no more than 25 mph in our neighborhoods.

In June, 2015, a group of residents, primarily from Seminary Road and N. Quaker Lane, met to prioritize our top traffic concerns. Congestion was discussed, but set aside as a city-wide issue to be addressed separately. Safety was clearly the more urgent and important issue.

Our group identified four safety concerns: Excessive speeds as indicated by 85th percentile speeds of 43 mph compared to 25 mph, which is the commonly-used speed limit for neighborhood streets in Alexandria. Walking safety, where crossing four lanes of traffic is hazardous and parents will not allow their children to walk or bike to school. Entry /exit risks. People are afraid to enter/exit side streets and driveways – one N. Quaker Lane resident spent 18 months in physical therapy after being rear-ended by a speeding car as she turned into her driveway. Reported crashes of more than 60 on each street over a 5-year period (and many crashes that concern us are not reported).

Our goal: make Seminary Road and N. Quaker Lane safe for all, safe for people to cross and walk along these streets, to bike on these streets, and to drive along or enter/exit.

We narrowed near-term options to a four-part solution: 25 mph speed limits, with $200 fines and education and enforcement. (The City’s plan does not include $200 fines, but that may be considered later if planned measures prove ineffective.)

We sought and gained community support: Members of our civic association voted in favor of the four-part solution 55-to-8 at our November annual meeting. 267 Alexandria residents, including 83.5 percent of households on Seminary Road and N. Quaker Lane (representing 96 percent of households contacted) signed a petition for these measures. Following a public hearing in February 2016, Traffic and Parking Board members voted 6-0 (with one abstention) in favor of the City’s proposed speed limit change to 25 mph.

We ask that Alexandria residents understand and appreciate our safety concerns and support the City’s decision for 25 mph speed limits to help Make Our Streets Safe.

Kevin Durkin