Krekorian Rallies with Cyclists, Council Members, Cops and Community for Safer Streets

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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.

  • Great fun to ride with you today!

  • Ack! You commented before I went back and took the apostrophe out of “Bike Writers Collective.” Don’t tell Enci!

  • limit

    I disagree with Assembly Bill 766. Prima facie speed limits should be found through a Traffic and Engineering Survey conducted by a licensed traffic engineer in accordance with existing rules and regulations.

    Not by an ambiguous “local authority” that can decide the speed after a public meeting with out justification from a Traffic and Engineering Survey.

    Selecting a location for a Traffic and Engineering Survey requires a professional to evaluate the area, and is not something that the general public can or should be involved in as it involves expert understanding of Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices guidelines.

  • Statsdude

    limit, there is much to be said about your argument. If I interpret it correctly, a qualified engineer will set the road to the optimal, or most efficient speed limit based on his/her determination of the road characteristics.

    If so, there could be some 33 mph streets, some 34 mph streets, etc. Great work if you are a traffic engineering consultant. Very confusing if you are a driver as you have to change your speed from block to block. How do you resolve professional differences and opinions. One engineer’s 35 mph may be 25 mph to another.

    The problem with the MUTCD is that no matter how hard it tries, it can’t take into account local conditions, hence your professional evaluation to set a local speed limit, based on your experience as a traffic engineer with the Manual, and your “subjective” view of the local area which you would determine by a site visit that may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few more minutes. I would think that would open you up to some significant liability in the case of a fatality. Oh, and would this involve consultation with local stakeholders, homeowners, etc?

    Traffic speeds are already set by political considerations, removing the engineer’s liability. This is why all residential streets have an artificial 25 mph restriction even though some newer, wider residential streets could easily accommodate 45-50 from an engineering standpoint. The unpredictability of traffic, especially once you consider buses, playing children, bicycles, and the local characteristics is difficult to understand unless you live there.

    England has an interesting way they do things.
    The current speed limits in Britain are 30 mph in high population areas, 60 mph on [rural] single roads and 70 mph on motorways and dual roadways. Makes it quite simple for both the driver, and the engineer (who doesn’t have to design for a maximum theoretical speed). That doesn’t mean the driver will follow those limits, just like today, but it does provide easier enforcement..

    With essentially only three speed limits, it’s relatively easy to follow.
    According to the UPI, they are looking at reducing speeds in residential areas and around schools to 20 mph.
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/18/Britain-cutting-speed-limit-for-safety/UPI-79551240078225/

  • I don’t know how to say this wihtout sounding like a dick, but I think that this bill is not the proper way to secure slower, safer, streets.

    I worked in development for a few years and these “public hearings” are kangaroo courts where logic, reason, justice, etc. rarely hold sway.

    This state needs a scientific standard for pedestrian and bicycle safety, period. A public hearing is license for a dog and pony show, and does little to guarantee anybody’s safety.

    An example of why this won’t work: residential streets (and all streets in LA where possible) are engineered to accept auto speeds well above the posted speed limit of 25, 35, or 55 mph. This passive safety design protocol does not take into account the lives and safety of non-auto road users. We need road designs that reflect pedestrian and bicyclists safety – these sorts of designs would include narrowed lanes, traffic calming devices and road diets. If engineers were given standards to uphold, they are actually quite clever people and would be able to meet those goals using these sorts of traffic control designs.

  • If Josef Bray Ali keeps this up, I’m gonna run the campaign and get him elected to the State Assembly and put him to work!

    Frozen Chicken Bowling at the Capitol Building! wOOt!

  • limit

    Statsdude I do not believe you have read into my post as intended unlike Umberto Brayj…

  • Statsdude

    limit,
    I was probably going too deep (plus it was very early in the morning). I like to focus on unintended consequences, so, while I liked your approach, I sensed there were some issues with it, when taken to a logical conclusion. just to be clear:

    1 – “I found much to be said about your argument.” That was a compliment.

    2 – Traffic laws and regulations are as much about politics as well as planning. Good politics will always trump good planning. Therefore I proposed a political solution, like they have in Britain

    3 – These people live and may die as a result of the engineering decision. They should be part of the process, just as the MUTCD is. The government ignored the people in the 50s and 60s when they just condemned all the minority neighborhoods to build freeways (or train stations or ballparks, etc). The government can’t exclude them now. Are they qualified to set limits? I don’t know. There may be a Caltrans Engineer in the neighborhood. But should they be excluded? (that is what I read into your post). Should Brayj not have any input as to what happens on the roads in his neighborhood?

    4 – I’m all for having safety set speed limits (instead of engineering based) in residential neighborhoods and around schools and certain arterials based on local conditions. If the roads are designed for higher speeds, traffic calming should be done to reduce the speeds. Until the money is available for that, what is the solution? There are residential streets designed for 50 mph.

    So once the engineering decision is made (the residential street is designed for 50 mph) the political decision is made. Do we
    a) raise the speed limit to 50?
    b) keep the speed limit at 25?
    c) spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on traffic calming?

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