At the same time, the big concern for many engineers, drivers and civic leaders is how lower speeds will impact traffic flow. They amazing thing is that it doesn’t have to make a huge difference. When you’re talking about traffic flow on these urban commercial streets, speed is far less important than delay at intersections. A great example (from the UK) is the main street in the small suburban town of Poynton, which carries more than 26,000 cars a day. They recently dramatically re-designed the street to create “slow speed continuous traffic movement” by removing stop lights.
Having the streets narrowed by snow banks for six weeks, with parked cars at best half in traffic, and people walking on the streets at the same time (even when the sidewalks were shoveled!) was not an ideal situation by any means, and there were definite choke points around, say, every liquor store and bodega, but much of the time I couldn't help noticing that short trips didn't noticeably take longer with everyone driving slower and having to pause periodically to let people past parked cars.
A combination of driving a hybrid, using traffic avoidance software and spending a year in a roundabout-oriented country, has caused me to change my driving routes to ones that travel at a somewhat slower but steadier pace. You get there quicker, it is way less stressful, you save gas and it is safer.