What a wonderful weekend along Hodgson Rd. There was a bit less traffic than usual but best of all is that most of the traffic was going much slower. Even with the rough road surface it was much quieter and riding along the path to Paninos or Village Scoop a bit more pleasant.
It can be better than it was before
While we can’t keep it like it is, we can make it better than it was before.
According to Ramsey County, Hodgson had 12′ travel lanes and 7′ shoulders prior to this project and the plan is to re-strip the same way.
Reducing a lane from 12′ to 11′ reduces average speeds by about 3 mph. That doesn’t sound like much, but that average mostly comes from the fastest drivers. Someone who normally drives the speed limit won’t usually change their speed with 11′ lanes, but someone who normally drives 55 mph along here may reduce their speed to perhaps 48 mph.
Reducing lane width from 12′ to 10′ reduces speeds by an average of 7 mph. Again, mostly from greater reductions by the fastest drivers.
It’s also important to note that speeds usually increase after a road has been repaved due to the smoother surface which makes doing something to reduce speeds along here and similar resurfacing projects that much more important.
Our roads are about 2 to 3 times as dangerous as Europe’s roads. We have the most dangerous roads of all developed countries (though Greece occasionally gives us a run for our money). Several studies have placed part of the blame on our very wide lanes that increase speeding and decrease driver attention. A road like this in Europe would likely have 2.85 to 3 meter lane widths (9’4″ – 9’9″). They believe and have shown that to be much safer since it helps with speeds and more important, drivers pay better attention when lane widths are narrower.
Narrower lanes and slower speeds are also much better for pedestrians and others needing to cross the road since the crossing distances are less and because traffic is a bit slower and better able to stop when someone is crossing. I’ve seen a few close calls for people crossing to the path from Wildflower Way and I’d guess there may be similar issues with the new developments on the east side of Hodgson.
Re-striping to 11′ or 10′ would reduce speeds, particularly of the fastest drivers, increase safety, improve driver attention, and reduce road noise. All of which will make life more pleasant for everyone.
This is not a silver bullet that alone will make our roads and paths safer but is one critical element.
If you think that this is important, contact Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman.
Ramsey County Board Office
Room 220 Court House
15 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102