Richmond has a plan to slow down drivers on city streets. But will it work?

Posted at 12:44 PM, Aug 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-02 12:44:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond leaders know there continues to be a problem with drivers who speed on city streets.

Richmond traffic engineer and transportation director Mike Sawyer said most of the city's deadly and devastating crashes happen on just a few of the city's streets.

"[High-injury network streets] comprise three percent of the street network [in Richmond], but 40 percent of the death and serious injury. Those are streets like Hull Street and US Route 1 from Richmond Highway on up to Chamberlayne Avenue," Sawyer said. "I would say every crash that occurs where there’s a fatality or serious injury there’s a speed issue. It isn’t about speeding, it’s about the actual impact speeds. So if we focus on the crash energy, I would say that’s the alarming part of this."

In addition to urging drivers to slow down, city leaders, like Public Works Director Bobby Vincent, are using a holistic approach to combat the issue. That strategy includes education, engineering, and enforcement.

"We have over 100 bump-outs installed and we are looking at putting in more bump-outs," Vincent said. "We have over 100 traffic circles in the city. Currently, we have well over 100 speed tables that have already been installed in the City of Richmond and we are looking at putting in 200 additional speed tables this year."

Vincent said the city has nearly $400 million worth of projects lined up to slow down drivers.

They include improving pedestrian crossings, upgrading and changing traffic signals, and adding bike lanes.

In addition, Richmond Police plan to step up enforcement along high-injury network roads.

"This is something that we have to continuously tackle to save lives," Richmond Police Major Don Davenport said. "Whether it's pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, motorist safety. Speed Kills. Speed is the biggest factor that puts people in the hospital in crashes. So that is our focus."

Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter wanted speeders to consider the incredible toll their actions can take not only on victims and their families but also first responders.

"First responders have to go witness and actually do their best to try to make the best out of a bad situation," Carter said. "And by doing so, oftentimes, they are mentally affected, short- and long-term consequences. PTSD, and these events are occurring more frequently. And therefore, we're responding to these risk events more frequently, and it's affecting our members more frequently."

"We don’t want to see people leave home in the morning and not return home in the evening just because somebody is driving recklessly," Vincent added. "We want people to adhere to the rules of the road. It’s very simple."

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