December 17, 2009

Slow down in Varna

I've not yet seen signs go up, but I've heard that the New York State Department of Transportation is giving the residents of Varna a brake - lowering the speed limit from 40 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour between Game Farm Road and the railroad bridge.

I think that's a distance of about two miles, which means it will cost motorists an extra minute while driving through a densely populated area with lots of driveways which currently has a steady stream of accidents. Seems like a good idea to me!

Posted by simon at December 17, 2009 8:25 AM in ,
Note on photos


Mike Sylvia said:

Can we forecast the unintended consequences of this reduced speed? I'll predict more difficulty getting through the intersection at Mt. Pleasant. It may even cause accidents there if frustration builds.

At least the state/county/city will have a boost in their revenue.

Brian Weis said:

A lower speed causing more accidents? that would be something! Since there are driveways and evidence of accidents already occurring, A speed decrease from 40 to 30 miles per hour on average will decrease a cars stopping distance from 58 to about 38 feet, quite a large distance when it comes to accidents. It may seem like slow cars are a danger, but the studies almost unanimously support slower speed as far safer, especially in areas with pedestrian traffic and driveways. Not to mention that a roads capacity for traffic goes up, as a cars following distance can decrease at slower speeds, allowing more cars to fit. More cars moving slower means overall better traffic flow. Try putting rice in a funnel, in this case the rice represents a car and the funnel a road. Now if you put all the rice in the funnel, its going to take a good amount of time for the rice to go through, however if you gradually put rice into the funnel, by controlling the speed, you can actually pass the rice through a lot faster.

Mike Sylvia said:

That sounds good in theory. If everyone went along with the speed limit, the theory should work out. But we're talking about people and some will not be following the speed limits. Further, at lower speeds people will tend to pay less attention to the task of driving and other tasks (for which we have laws prohibiting many) will fill the void.

Are there statistics available for accidents on this stretch of road? It might be interesting to see what happens.

John SULLIVAN said:

I am a Varna resident and very much against lowering the speed limit. I don't think it is unreasonably high for the straight stretch of road we are talking about. 30 will seem like a ridiculous crawl. Where are the data on accidents along this stretch of road? I'd be interested to see them. Was this a request made to NY DOT from other Varna residents? I think this change is unnecessary, (but I am willing to be convinced by evidence to the contrary).

John Sullivan said:

A bit more justification for my point of view: I could see how there could be a case for a lower speed limit if there was a lot of growth along this corridor with new businesses or households, but there's been none. About as static as a place can be for the 10 years or so I've been here to observe. What has changed since the speed limit was initially set? Other areas that have set 30 mph limits for highways passing through populated areas have businesses that people have to cross the street to use. Not the case here. I see very few people crossing the street except sometimes in front of Varna Auto Service. Again, if there's been a spate of accidents along here involving pedestrians I'd like to learn the facts. How did this process of lowering the speed limit happen? Was community opinion solicited? Is it a fait accompli at this point?

Sorry - just realized I hadn't answered this.

Yes, this was requested, and yes, there's been a regular drumbeat of community interest in a speed reduction. The Varna Community Association held a meeting on traffic calming way back in 2004, and there was a more recent ITCTC/County Planning meeting that pretty much turned into calls to end the passing zone (happened), lower the speed limit (happening), and add traffic lights and sidewalks (not yet, anyway). That was residents and firefighters talking.

The actual request for a reduction went through the Town and then the County.

The accidents have mostly been vehicular, one I know of just a few months ago totaling a resident's car as she turned into her driveway. Honestly, I'm not very comfortable walking far on 366, though I do for short distances or when I have to. I think a lot of people avoid it, except often to get to the bus stop at Varna Auto Service.

(And I live out by Saunders' Greenhouse, where it's a 45 with a passing zone, and my mailbox is on the other side of the road. Yikes!)