Assemblyman Paul Krekorian: Let’s Make Our Speeding Streets “Safe Streets”

4_13_09_krekorian.jpgLast week, I received an email from the office of Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-43) who introduced legislation, A.B. 776, that would change the very laws that are requiring the speed limit raises throughout the Valley as a preclude to limit raises throughout the city.  After a back and forth with his office, the Assemblyman himself emailed me a statement which can be read below and a fact sheet that can be read after the jump.  I’ll let Krekorian speak for himself, although the emphasis added to parts of the statement are mine.

The legislation will be heard by the Assembly Transportation Committee Hearing on April 20.

I share the frustration
felt by so many Valley residents who know that our current laws to address
speeding are inadequate. 

Recent news reports have
addressed this issue but failed to address a key component of what I am doing
on the state level to try and fix what has been a pervasive problem on our
streets.

On Feb. 26, I introduced
legislation that will increase pedestrian safety by giving local governments an
important tool to control speeding. Currently cities are required by state law
to evaluate street speeds and adjust the limits if they want police to be able
to use radar guns. If the study of a street finds that 85% of drivers are
speeding, the city must raise the limit. The problem is, the law doesn’t
consider the public safety of pedestrians or those who live on or near city
streets.

My Safe
Streets Bill
will allow local governments, through a public process, to
consider pedestrian safety when reviewing local speed limits, not just the
rising speed of passing motorists. Essentially, this measure would provide
local governments with a means of increasing pedestrian and community safety by
limiting increases in speed limits on local streets.  

If passed, the Safe
Streets Bill would allow local entities to retain existing speed limits on
their streets – instead of the state mandating a change every seven years –
after public hearings show that a higher speed limit would not improve the flow
of traffic, nor promote a safe environment for the neighborhood or
pedestrians. 

We are an ever-changing
populous in which our communities are growing faster each day; it’s time
we had legislation to allow local governments the power to keep our streets,
our communities and our children safe from excessive speeding. The Safe Streets
Bill will help deliver peace of mind that drivers, pedestrians and parents
deserve on our streets.      

Assemblymember
Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) represents the cities of
Burbank
and
Glendale, and the Los
Angeles
communities of Atwater Village, Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village
and Van Nuys.

And, here is the fact sheet from Krekorian’s office.

Your browser may not support display of this image.BACKGROUND

Many cities in California
struggle to deal with excessive speed on local roads, which can thereby
pose a significant threat to public safety.  One contributing factor
is required periodic engineering and traffic surveys which can lead
to an increased speed limit on local roads because many drivers continually
drive faster than posted speed limits.  Under current law, local
governments have only limited ability to adjust speed limits on local
roadways to account for public safety. 

In 2008, in the City
of Glendale there were 82 Pedestrian Related Traffic Collisions and
4 Pedestrian Fatalities.  According to recent data from 2001, nearly
20% of the traffic fatalities in California are pedestrians.  A
major contributing factor in many of these fatalities is excessive speeding
by motorists. 

EXISTING LAW

Requires that any section
of road in which a local entity has adopted a prima facie speed limit,
and the enforcement of the limit involves the use of radar, the entity
must conduct an engineering and traffic survey every seven years.

THIS BILL

AB 766 would allow a local entity to
retain existing prima facie speed limits on a street only if certain
conditions are met.  In order to retain the existing speed limit,
a local entity must conduct a public hearing and then make an official
finding that a higher speed limit would not improve the flow of traffic,
nor would it promote a safe environment for the neighborhood or pedestrians.   

Additionally, this measure provides that
if the local entity conducts a public hearing and makes an official
finding, then the existing prima facie speed limit does not need to
be rejustified by an engineering and traffic survey.

SUMMARY

This measure would provide local governments
with a means of increasing pedestrian and community safety by limiting

increases in speed limits on local streets. 
Under current law, if local law enforcement wish to use radar enforcement
of a speed limit then an engineering and traffic survey must be conducted
every seven years.  The local speed limit can then be modified
based on the results of the survey.  Often times an engineering
and traffic survey will show that motorists are consistently driving
above the posted speed limit and therefore an increase in the speed
limit is needed.   

This bill gives local governments some
limited control over vehicle speed and safety within their jurisdiction. 
Unfortunately, the current process does not place enough value on the
safety of pedestrians and those who live on or near the street being
surveyed.  This measure allows local governments, through a public
process, to give consideration to pedestrian safety when the review
of local speed limits occurs. 

This bill aims to provide local governments
with an additional tool to keep the speeds traveled on local roads at
a safe level for drivers, pedestrians, and communities as a whole. 
This bill balances the ability of drivers to safely drive on City streets
at a reasonable speed with the needs of residents and pedestrians to
be able to access those same streets without an undue risk of a collision,
thus enhancing both community safety and traffic flow.

BILL STATUS

2/26/2009: Introduced

4/20/2009: Assembly Transportation Committee 

SUPPORT

Sponsor:
City of Glendale

For More Information

Office of Asst Majority Leader Krekorian

Jeremy Oberstein (818) 558-3043

  • patrick pascal

    Why doesn’t the LAPD just enforce the desired speed limit without radar?

  • Verrrrry cooool! Let us know who to write letters to to get this passed.

  • “This bill would allow a local authority retain a prima facie speed limit on any street, other than a state highway, if the local authority makes a finding, after a public hearing, that a higher speed limit is not the most appropriate for the orderly movement of traffic upon the street and does not promote a safe environment for the neighborhood or pedestrians.”

    A public hearing? This guy’s heart is in the right place, but we have professional engineers at our beck and call. Why not provide them with an engineering standard to use? It is so much easier than this b.s. litmus test of political popularity of a particular issue.

    The solution to this problem is not a public hearing! We need “pedestrian and bicyclist safety” to be more than just words – we need standards for these things that force an engineer to make a determination that faster speeds for cars will make pedestrians and bicyclists less safe.

    Do some homework already, Assemblyman!

  • Westcork

    The existing law already permits cities to reduce the Prima Facie limit by 5 mph if justified by accident statistics. It also requires public hearings for all speed limit changes prior to the change taking effect. I thought our legislators were supposed to know something about existing laws.

  • The nation wide practice of using the 85th percentile for determining speed limits is based on the concept that 85% of individual drivers make reasonable judgments about driving speeds, and 15% do not.

    That has been standard traffic engineering practice since the days of the Model A Ford. To abandon that concept is fraught with the possibility of bad speed zoning based on emotions and in some instances income gathering.

    As a retired traffic engineer, I would personally encourage some research into the possibility of lowering the 85th percentile to perhaps the 80th percentile. Thus one of five would be considered driving unreasonably fast.

    Actually, in my view the real problem is lack of effective enforcement. State laws prevent the utilization of available technology for speed enforcement that could operate more or less remotely. Until that changes we will always have the inconsiderate speeder menace.

  • Alan

    IDEA!
    Amend the California Penal Code: Violation of car_vs_bike = ride a bike as punishment PLUS a 3-month license suspension; car_vs_pedestrian = walk as punishment PLUS a 3-month license suspension. If the penalty requires actual labor/work then the deterrent is most powerful. Also, make it harder to get a license by requiring the DMV to better educate those persons to whom the licenses are being sold.

  • ALPCO

    FYI

    We bicyclists spend just as much money and pay just as much tax as “the next guy”.