If a street has no sidewalks, and the children are required to walk, what is an acceptable speed limit for the street?

The acceptable speed limit along a roadway without sidewalks and used by pedestrians depends on a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: the number of travel lanes, presence and width of the road shoulder, the land uses surrounding the road (e.g., the business, homes, schools, driveways, and parking lots along the road), and the road setting (rural, urban or suburban). The safety of children and other pedestrians who walk along a road depends more on the actual speeds of traffic than the posted speed limit. For example, simply lowering the speed limit on a route (without providing traffic calming or other roadway improvements) is generally not effective in lowering actual vehicle speeds. Also, for some suburban or rural roads in cases where concrete sidewalks are not feasible, adding wide paved shoulders can provide a place for children to walk along the road. It is important for the local traffic and safety engineers to carefully review each site to make sure that it is a reasonably safe route for children to walk or bike.

The vehicle speed limit in the section of the road that falls within the boundaries of the school zone should be clearly posted and the speed limit should be set at or below 25 mph during school arrival and dismissal times (note: the posted speed limit may be less than 25 mph depending on the school zone speed that is allow by your state's Department of Transportation and/or municipal government).

Our Safe Routes to School Guide's Engineering section describe strategies that can be used to improve the walking environment along the walking route section and slowing down traffic section. These sections may provide information that you can use to discuss the issue of speed with your local traffic engineer, planner and other interested parties.

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