We owe FDOT an apology. FDOT did reply to our email in which we requested from FDOT that they reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. Unfortunately, FDOT’s reply was flagged as spam and we found the email about three weeks after we received a reply. Mr. Gus Pego forwarded our email to Mr. Ramon Sierra who replied to our email on October 7, 2010. Please see FDOT’s response below:
Dear Ms. Moore,
This email is in response to your recent request to Gus Pego to reduce the posted speed limit on Brickell Avenue to 25 MPH. We appreciate and value your concern, as safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority too.
An average of 30,000 vehicles travel on this road daily and the area’s population density stands at about 25,000 people per square mile. Therefore, balancing the need for safety for all roadway users and adjacent property owners and preserving the roadway’s operational integrity is essential to maintain and even enhance the quality of life along the avenue.
The primary purpose of a speed limit is to provide improved safety by reducing the probability and severity of crashes. Properly set speed limits provide more uniform flow of traffic and appropriately balance risk and travel time, which results in the efficient use of the highway’s capacity and fewer crashes. Data and studies conducted through-out the country suggest that changes to posted speed limits do very little to change driver behavior, but instead increase the roadway speed differential - the speed difference between the highest and lowest speeds of vehicles using the facility. It is widely accepted within the traffic engineering and law enforcement communities that increased speed differential, not posted speed is what contributes to increased crash rates.
The Department uses the 85th percentile method to determine appropriate and safe posted speed limits. Based on extensive nationally accepted studies and observations, this method measures the speed of hundreds of vehicles and identifies the speed 85 percent of drivers travel at as reasonably safe for the various roadway conditions they encounter, regardless of the speed limit. Meaningful law enforcement is essential to ensure that the remaining 15 percent of drivers comply with the posted speed limit.
Speed data we collected on Brickell Avenue from S.E. 25th Road to S.E. 10th Street on September 16th, 2010 revealed the following:
- North of S.E. 25th Road: The 85th percentile speed was 45 MPH and the current posted speed limit is 40 MPH.
- South of S.E. 15th Road: The 85th percentile speed was 45 MPH for northbound traffic and 43 MPH for southbound traffic. This location lays between the 35 and 40 MPH posted speed limit sections.
- South of S.E. 10th Street: The 85th percentile speed is 39 MPH for northbound traffic and 37 MPH for southbound traffic. The current posted speed limit is 35 MPH.
A 5 MPH difference between the 85th percentile and posted speeds is considered acceptable. Therefore, we conclude that the current posted speed limit is appropriate along the entire segment.
The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates the time you took to express your comments and concerns. While you may disagree with the Department’s position, I hope this email helped explain and clarify the reasons we do not favor revising the posting speed limit on Brickell Avenue given present conditions.
For general information related to how speed limits are set and the effects of lowering and raising speed limits on roadway sections, you may want to visit the following websites:
Ramon Sierra, P.E.
Assistant Traffic Operations Engineer
Florida Department of Transportation
Apologies for our mistake. Nevertheless, we don’t find FDOT’s response agreeable. We still believe the speed limit should be reduced and additional crosswalks and bicycle sharrows need to be included during the upcoming resurfacing project. Please let us know what you think of FDOT’s response in the comments section. We promise to keep fighting for the residents and businesses on Brickell. After all, it seems that FDOT is the only one that believes cars should take priority over people.
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