At yesterday’s City Council Transportation Committee, the Council did approve the LAPD’s recommendation to place a moratorium on the City’s bike licensing program but only after also approving the LAPD’s other recommendation to increase speed limits on four surface streets in the valley.
The LAPD and Council Members present yesterday both feel that raising the speed limits is a necessary step to bringing the roads in line with state laws. For a municipality to be allowed to enforce speed with radar and laser technologies they need to re-evaluate the speed limits on local streets and set the limits at the speed of the 85th percentile of drivers. As part of the city-wide evaluation, parts of Saticoy Street, White Oak Avenue, Corbin Avenue and Mulholland Drive were discovered to have speed limits set below the average speed of the roads.
However, many still feel that raising the limits is a mistake. Jim Anderson, the Pulbic Safety Committee Chair for the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council complained that raising limits will make the streets more dangerous for everyone, pedestrians, drivers and everyone else. Anderson also argued that there wasn’t sigifgant outreach to the Neighborhood Councils on this issue. While the LAPD and LADOT both showed multiple points of contact with the Neighborhood Councils, Anderson complained that the contact came after the decisions were made and were proceeding despite an outcry from the community.
The Committee seemed resigned to no other choice of action other than raising the speed limits. Councilman Richard Alarcon defended the proposal noting, "We’re not raising the speed of vehicles, they are already going that speed." When challeneged by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Committee’s Aurisha Smolarski that drivers seeing the limit raised would likely increase their driving speed, Alarcon responded that, "well, then we can ticket them."
If at least 15% of drivers on these roads are breaking the current speed limit, enforcement along these stretches probably isn’t all that strict to begin with. The Committee moved the increases along for a vote of the full Council with the caveats that votes on the proposals inside of the Woodland Hills communities would not have a final vote until there is greater outreach in that community. The Council also pledged to fight the state law requiring these increases even though LADOT Assistant General Manager John Fisher stated that even if the law were changed it wouldn’t change the LADOT’s desire to speed up traffic on these streets.