Artificially low speed limits on trails

The Spinal Column is reporting on new trail signs for the Milford Trail through the village of Milford. According to the article, these signs include a will “post a speed limit of 10 miles per hour.”

Apparently they are only follow the same rules set forth by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority.

Whenever a usable and designated path has been provided near a roadway, cyclists, hikers, joggers, runners and in-line skaters shall use that path and shall not use the roadway. However, the speed limit on the hike-bike trails is 10 miles per hour, so cyclists riding at faster speeds shall use the roadway.

It’s doubtful many people will observe 10 MPH limit since it’s unreasonably low and many bicycles don’t have speedometers.

So what is the better answer?

It’s probably to not set a speed limit at all. The trail signs would require bicyclists to yield to pedestrians, stay to the right, and avoid recklessness. That should cover everything.

Besides, the trail should meet the AASHTO standards which calls for a minimum design speed of 20 MPH.

Shared use paths should be designed for a selected speed that is at least as high as the preferred speed of the faster bicyclists. In general, a minimum design speed of 20 MPH should be used. Although bicyclists can travel faster that this, to do so would be inappropriate in a mixed-use setting. Design and traffic controls can be used to deter excessive speed and faster cyclists can be encouraged to use the roadway system. Lower design speeds should not be selected to artificially lower user speeds. When a downgrade exceeds 4%, or where strong prevailing tailwinds exist, a design speed of 30 MPH or more is advisable.

If the trail is designed for safe travel at 20 MPH then it doesn’t make sense posting a speed limit at half that.

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2 Responses to “Artificially low speed limits on trails”

  1. Sean Says:

    I’ve been on those trails…I think it’s a good idea. Bikers in Detroit pretty much act like drivers in Detroit. I think 20 miles an hour is probably way too fast for a trial in general, but in Detroit, it’s genuine recipe for disaster.

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    But, do you bike at 10 MPH or less at all times on those trails (including the downhills?) If a trail is designed for 20 MPH and there’s no one else on it, it’s not unsafe. Speed limits are really just that. Sometimes the conditions (e.g. other trail users, weather, dogs) support safe riding at the limit, sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t mean you set the limit at a point where most cyclists will ignore it.

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