Speed Limit Raises Reach Their Last Stop

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It seems like years since the first time I wrote about the LADOT’s efforts to increase speed limits on several surface arterial streets in the San Fernando Valley.  Earlier today, one batch of those increases appeared on the City Council’s Consent Agenda, traditionally the last place legislation appears before it becomes law.

Despite LADOT’s protestations that they really didn’t want to oversee speed limit increases but had to because of state law if the police wanted to use radar to enforce the speed; residents opposed these limits for a variety of safety reasons.  That the LADOT also admitted that even if it’s hands weren’t tied by state laws they would still want to increase these limits to improve traffic flow only angered the community’s who’s roads are seeing faster traffic more angry.  The Los Angeles Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glen Bailey went so far as to call the public process "dysfunctional" and "idiotic."  His commentary at Streetsblog reflected what he said at a recent City Council Transportation Committee Hearing.

Now the police department says, raise the speed limit and we’ll
enforce it. Why didn’t they enforce the 35 MPH speed limit? They’ve had
at least seven years to obtain compliance and, according to the
Department of Transportation’s so-called Engineering Report, have
failed to do. So now the speeders are forcing the speed limit to be
increased, and if the past is any predictor of the future, another
increase will be in the offing by 2013. Idiotic!

For a complete list of the road segments seeing increases, check out today’s City Council agenda.  To make life easier, run a search for "transportation."   And just a reminder for those that don’t live in the Valley, in the coming years this kind of public process and faster, more dangerous streets will becoming to a street near you.

One sign of a broken outreach plan could be that Assemblyman Paul
Krekorian’s legislation
that would give the DOT more flexibility and a
better public process is due to be heard next Monday, yet the speed
limit increases moved forward never the less.  Let’s not even pretend
that the city would consider redesigning these streets, many of them
residential, to slow down traffic so the Krekorian legislation is the
best hope that activists outside the valley have of hoping to avoid a repeat performance in local years.

  • In all of the LADOT’s surveys they “took into consideration” the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians by simply stating “we took bicycle and pedestrian safety into consideration” and/or by statinf that the number of vehicle trips going by would produce an acceptable level of fatalities per million trips.

    Is there no standard for “pedestrian and bicycle safety” in the entire state of California, or in the entire Municipal Code for the City of Los Angeles? No standard whatsoever? The LADOT gets to just make up “pedestrian and bicycle safety” and then disregard it?

    Wow. That says a lot. It is ridiculous that our elected officials are such spineless ameoba when confronted with the LADOT’s internal bullshit team that warns them that the LADOT is forced into raising the speed limits. Baloney, utter nonsense – and show me the case law to prove that I’m wrong.

  • Neil O

    Agree with Umberto that a standard for safety ought to be established.

    But also — go nack and read Krekorian’s proposed legislation AB 766 closely:

    “…a local authority may retain a prima facie speed limit… 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.”

    So in this bill, the finding has to be that a higher speed limit is:

    (a) not appropriate orderly movement of traffic

    AND

    (b) not safe for neighborhood or pedestrians

    and if both of those conditions are true then the prima facie speed limit may be retained.

    My issue is with the “and” connecting (a) and (b). It seems to me the bill should allow neighborhood safety to override the orderly movement of traffic. As written, the bill doesn’t do that. I’d suggest the bill should read:

    “…a local authority may retain a prima facie speed limit… 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 OR does not promote a safe environment for the neighborhood or pedestrians.”

    As far as I can see, simply changing the “and” to an “or” makes the bill far better, and especially so if a standard definition of safety is subsequently established.

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