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20 Is Plenty, Maybe? No. I Don't Know So Let's Talk About It

As I perused my Facebook wall after my beloved New York Rangers took an embarrassing game 5 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, I cam across a particularly polarizing kinja reply to an entry published on Gizmodo about Paris' new 30 km/h rule.

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The Comment in question, stated that our country is long overdue for a "20 is plenty" type of rule, and made mention of how the UK already has implemented similar kinds of speed enforcements. It got me thinking because it's a discussion that, as gear heads, is usually cut and dry, but in reality has a lot of depth and is worth exploring.

Now, I'm of the opinion that highway speed limits across the board are too low and the fact that we haven't made clogging up the left lane a finable offense yet nationally absurd, but I think there is an argument to be made that city traffic congestion is worsened by late braking, heavy footed motorists. The cities that dot the Northeast corridor all have major traffic congestion, and obviously the population of those cities is the biggest factor, but I think there's a case to be made for the way we control congestion in major populated areas. It is much easier to time and offset light changes on roads when the speed is lower, and it's also possible to impose speed laws that are only in effect during the daytime when streets are the most crowded, allowing motorists freedom for quicker transportation when it is both safer and more logical. A 20 mph speed limit at 12AM doesn't make much sense, and it would only hinder motorists, but at 5pm it would be both less stressful and much easier to manage.

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I'd like to point out that none of this thought process is taking into account emissions. Unlike Paris, or most European cities for that matter, our major cities still have some pretty big, pretty inefficient vehicles, and used cars are cheaper to insure, which means your dads Crown Victoria is still probably on the road, only now a lot older and worse off. Not that going slower won't help raise the fuel economy of a Crown Vic, but it's going to be idling and burning up fuel quickly regardless, as will most of the major SUV's of the last 15 years still on the road, not to mention the many billions of trillions of billions of F-150's.

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