Webinar Recap: Slow Roads Save Lives
People biking should get home safely, every time. But bicyclist deaths are at a 45-year high. The crisis of traffic violence on our roads needs solutions. One of those is safer speeds, because Slow Roads Save Lives.
We demand slow roads in our neighborhoods where people live, work, learn, and play.
The League of American Bicyclists is calling for everyone, from government leaders to individuals, to recognize and support the need for slow roads designed for safer speeds. Slow roads are designed to encourage safe speeds thereby preventing crashes and, if and when crashes do happen, enabling people to survive lower speed crashes.
Our Slow Roads Save Lives campaign asks people to take our pledge to support slow roads through advocacy to re-sign and redesign streets and in their everyday driving. We are asking you to embrace your role as an individual to enact change. As drivers, we can recognize our control of our own speed and our ability to embrace slower speeds. With this pledge, we encourage you to think about how it feels to drive slower, how it feels to drive the speed limit, whether you feel pressured by others to speed, whether you notice a difference in your travel times when you drive slower, and how you can use that reflection to talk to others about consciously and intentionally embracing driving slower.
To launch the campaign, the League hosted a webinar on the issue and we were joined by two amazing people working to make slower roads a reality:
- Natalie Draisin — the Director of the North American Office and the United Nations Representative for the FIA Foundation
- Amy Cohen — the Co-Founder of Families for Safe Streets
Natalie shared a wealth of international examples where public agencies, supported by advocates, have made the shift to safe mobility as a human right. The need to manage roads for slower safer speeds was highlighted through research-backed efforts including a Traffic Conflict Technique Toolkit, Cycle RAP, and Vision Zero for Youth. US-based efforts such as the Safe Streets and Roads for All program and National Roadway Safety Strategy are ways that the Safe System Approach found in other nations is coming to America.
Amy shared her personal story of tragedy and advocacy as the Co-Founder of Families for Safe Streets. After her 12-year-old son was killed by a driver in her neighborhood, she began to fight for slower, safer speed limits in New York City. An initial success allowed the city to post 25 miles per hour speed limits, but the goal was always 20 mph and that fight continues. Through creative and persistent advocacy, Amy has participated in marathon walks and hunger strikes to pressure elected officials to allow slower safer speed limits.
Ultimately, we have a goal of 20 mph on streets in neighborhoods and on roads where people biking, walking, and using mobility devices frequently intermix with cars — with 20 mph speed limits, a person hit by a person driving the legal speed limit has a 90 percent chance of survival. We want speed limit compliance to be a critical part of roadway design because the risk inherent to higher speeds is recognized as one of the most important things to manage for traffic safety. Too many roads are designed for speed. We want to celebrate our safest streets and the reasons that slower speed limits are common for schools, parks, and places where the safety of people comes first.
For decades, our road design and speed limit setting frameworks have been car-focused rather than safety or people-focused. We believe that designing for the safety of people is not optional and to make progress toward safer, more sustainable, and thriving communities requires reframing for people and safety-first.
The League recognizes that our streets are a product of a layered social environment, made up of individuals, agencies, elected officials, and others, who all play a role in whether our culture embraces and produces safer streets. We will not have an effective traffic safety culture that supports slower safer streets if those layers do not align and support safer streets together. As a national organization, we are excited to work with others to address each level of our social environment and build a Slow Roads movement.
We hope you enjoy and are inspired by this webinar. Slow Roads are Good Roads, and the changes to bring about slower safer streets are as monumental as those that brought us the fast paved roads of today. Our existing traffic safety culture is too often dismissive of demands for slower speeds. By speaking up, embodying slower speeds as drivers, and building a Slow Roads Movement together we can create a new culture of safer streets that recognizes the power of slower speeds.
Watch the webinar in full below: