Flanked by members of the City Council Transportation Committee, police from the Cities of Glendale and Burbank, an L.A. County Sheriff, leaders from community boards and a group of cyclists from around the city; Assemblyman Paul Krekorian strongly made his case for the passage of A.B. 766, the legislation that would empower the community to resist speed limit raises even if called for in an engineering survey.
Before turning the podium over to the Council Members and Police Officers, Krekorian praised the community for the tremendous support they’ve shown for this legislation. Noting that powerful interests are aligned against A.B. 766, including the Auto Club of Southern California, the Teamsters and the California Highway Patrol, the support of the elected leaders and the grassroots is particularly important if we want to retake our streets from speeding motorists.
And let’s face it, it doesn’t get more grassroots than the support of neighborhood activists who live along the streets already effected by the city’s increased speed limits or nearly a dozen cyclists pedaling to the press conference. The cyclists present weren’t a part of a coordinated effort by one of the city’s "official" bike groups but was organized by the efforts of the Bike Writers Collective, especially Stephen Box. The battle against speed limit increases has always been an effort from the bottom up, so it was good to see so many cyclists providing a backdrop for the event. In the picture on the left, you can see Box and Eric Knutzen, two members of the BWC and two people very familiar to any regular reader of Streetsblog.
Krekorian pointed out how current law, which requires that speed limits be set at the eighty-fifth percentile of drivers creates a never-ending spiral upward for speed limits. Via LAist:
"Unfortunately," Krekorian continued, "these traffic surveys take into
account the average speed that drivers are using on that street, which
means that as speeders continue to increase the average speed limit,
local government feels forced to increase the posted speed limit. Of
course, as soon as that happens, the speeders go a little faster and
it’s an endless cycle of mayhem on our streets."
As for the other elected supporters of the legislation, the strongest statement came from City Council Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Greuel who declared that, "We have had enough!…This legislation gives us the right to control our own destiny and control our own streets!" While we appreciate Greuel’s support of A.B. 766, it would be better if she would also bottle up any pending speed limit increases until after Krekorian’s legislation has had a chance to move through the committee structure in Sacramento and becomes a law. Thus far, speed limit increases are continuing to be passed by the City’s Transportation Commission, the Council’s Transportation Committee, and the Council itself. A particularly controversial increase was even passed by the full City Council earlier this week.
Also speaking at the event were Valley Councilman Richard Alarcon, who spoke movingly about how a speeder took the life of his infant son and the child’s grandmother over two decades ago and Glendale Policeman Carl Poulaitis, who helped author the legislation. Greuel, Box and Poulaitis are all traveling to Sacramento for A.B. 766’s hearing this Monday. If you want to help the legislation get past the committee, chaired by Assemblyman Mike Eng, a draft letter of support and a place to email it can be found here.