“There’s just been a growing concern that we’re setting precedents that we probably shouldn’t set,” said Councilman Gene Dulaney.
Dulaney was one of four votes against the change, along with Mayor Bill Ham, Bob Norman and Brent Beard.
The 35 miles per hour speed limit on Thach was reduced to 25 miles per hour, a change which went into effect Tuesday.
In favor of the vote were Robin Kelley, Arthur Dowdell, Dick Phelan, Tom Worden and Sheila Eckman.
Residents initiated the request, saying people were driving 45–50 miles per hour, but a traffic calming study on the road indicated otherwise. The study showed that 85 percent of drivers on East Thach were going 39–40 miles per hour in the 35 mph zone—not fast enough to warrant action.
“People drive at the speed at which they are comfortable driving,” said city traffic engineer Brandy Ezelle. “Changing the speed limit does not necessarily change drivers’ behaviors.”
Eckman, who voted for the change, said she doesn’t think traffic studies always show the reality of the situation.
“Nobody knows better than the people that live there,” Eckman said. “It’s a very, very busy corridor there.”
Eckman said she thought the change was necessary because of the narrowness of the road, the bike lanes on either side and the number of children going to and from the library and school.
Ham said while he appreciated the concerns of the residents on the street, he didn’t think lowering the speed limit was the answer.
“There’s a lot, a tremendous amount of engineering criteria,” Ham said. “You can cause problems by having the speed limit too low, too.”
Ham and Dulaney said they felt the problem was more of an enforcement issue.
“They’re probably still going to exceed the speed limit,” Ham said. “I don’t know if the net effect will be much different. I hope I’m wrong.”
Ezelle also expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the change.
“People may and probably will still drive the same speed as they were driving before,” Ezelle said. “Without extensive police enforcement, those speeds don’t control themselves … they have to be controlled by police.”