Albuquerque city councilors are considering a proposal to reduce the speed limit downtown. “A pedestrian who is hit by a car going 20 miles-per-hour has a 90 percent chance of survival…same pedestrian, if it’s hit by a car going 30 miles-per-hour, has a 50 percent chance of survival,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Issac Benton. Councilor Isaac Benton is pushing a “Downtown Safety Zone.” It would drop the speed limit to 20 mph between Eighth Street and the railroad tracks, and Coal to just south of Lomas. Right now that area has speed limits of 25 to 30 mph.
Yesterday the state House failed to pass HB1264 which would have North Dakota’s speed limit on multi-lane highways to 75 mph for state highways and 80 mph for the interstates. I wrote “failed to pass” instead of “voted down” because the vote was actually a tie. It was 46 to 46, with 2 lawmakers not voting. The bill may come to the floor again – they often do after close votes – but perhaps more interesting than the issue itself is the criticism some of the lawmakers had for the fiscal note attached to the bill by the Department of Transportation. Fiscal notes, for those of you who might not follow this stuff close, are a report on the expected costs or revenues resulting from a particular piece of legislation. They’re usually put together by the state agency with oversight of the policy area the bill is dealing with. With speed limits, it’s the Department of Transportation. Problem is, state agencies often use fiscal notes to try and manipulate policy outcomes. Instead of providing unbiased facts and analysis, the state agencies game these fiscal notes to achieve a particular political outcome. I’ve written about this phenomena before, and lawmakers have long made jokes about the “death by fiscal note” tactic, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as forceful a push back against manipulative fiscal notes as during yesterday’s floor debate on HB1264.
Sweden is saying goodbye to cars with internal combustion engines. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has now declared that no new cars with diesel or petrol engines will be sold after 2030. Clearly, Scandinavia is stepping up when it comes to transport transition off fossil fuels. Norway, which is so far the only country ever to have an EV-registration quota of around 50 per cent, has aimed even higher, with no new cars with combustion engines to be on the market in 2025. Denmark has drawn up corresponding plans for the year 2030, as Sweden has now done. But it is not just Scandinavia that is managing the change. Greenpeace transport expert Marion Tiemann pointed out that Sweden is now the tenth country to have set such a concrete phase-out date, and that larger nations such as Great Britain and France are also among them. The latter however angle toward ICE bans no sooner than by 2040 – for the time being.
The Washington state House of Representatives is considering legislation that would require state and local agencies to purchase only electric vehicles by next decade. Automakers have urged state governments with zero-emission vehicle mandates to do more to support the EV market, including increased purchases of EVs for fleets. Under H.B. 1832, Washington’s state agencies, public colleges and universities, counties, cities and special-purpose districts could buy only EVs by 2027, with limited exceptions. Existing gas- and diesel-powered vehicles would be grandfathered under the law.
Michigan doesn’t spend enough money on its roads. Not even close. That’s what Paul Ajegba, the new director of the Michigan Department of Transportation told the Free Press last month. “The issue is not enough revenue for our needs.” This week, in her State of the State address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer framed the challenge as a historic one: “We didn’t get here overnight. This is a challenge 30 years in the making — the result of underinvestment across multiple administrations. We need to act now, before a catastrophe happens or the situation becomes truly unrecoverable.” Our state is unique in that it has spent much less on roads than other states for many years. Michigan ranks dead last among the states for highway capital spending (construction, replacement and major alternations) since 2000 as measured by the Census Bureau. Michigan spent an average of $155 per person per year compared to a national average of $300. Even more telling, the average was $343 for the other Great Lakes states. Just to bring highway capital investment up to the national average would require about $1.5 billion more every year going forward.