City Plans to Raise Speed Limits for Valley in the Midst of Deadly Year for Pedestrians

4_7_09_valley.jpgAerial View of the Valley via cocoi_m/flickr

Last month, the L.A. Daily News reported that so far, 2009 was shaping up to be a far deadlier year for pedestrians living in the Valley than last year.  Just last week, after a particularly brutal week for pedestrians, I wondered what exactly was Los Angeles’ plan for making the streets safer for pedestrians.

Today, we have our answer.  The LADOT, LAPD and City Council are poised to raise speed limits on four streets all located in the Valley.  On the list of streets to be "improved" with faster limits are De Soto Avenue between the Ronald Reagan Freeway aka State Route 118 and Ventura Boulevard, Victory Boulevard between the San Diego Freeway and Shoup Avenue, Balboa Boulevard between Foothill Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard, and Zelzah Avenue between Rinaldi Street and Nordhoff Street.  A full list of tomorrow’s agenda can be found here.

The LADOT and LAPD have conspired to raise the limits on these streets because of a state law that requires that the speed limit be set at the 85th percentile of traffic every couple of years for the police to be able to use radar.  What has been left unexplained is why so many people are speeding on these roads if the police are using rader currently.  Unless limits are being enforced, people will continue to speed no matter what the limit and the limit will rise every couple of years.

Of course, LADOT Assistant General Manager John Fisher has also told the City Council that even if that state law didn’t exist the DOT would be asking the city to raise the limits.  Why they sometimes pretend to be powerless because of state law and sometimes say the law is irrelevant when there are speed limits to be raised is beyond me.

Maybe some of these streets sound familiar to regular readers of websites such as City Watch or Streetsblog, it’s because this isn’t the first time they’ve been brought up for speed limit increases.

Our friend Stephen Box has written extensively about the deadly design of Zelzah Avenue and effort of the community to make it safer.  From the effort to get a crosswalk placed in front of Granada High School since a student was struck there over six years ago to the community’s last ditch effort to stop the limit from being raised last fall.  Now the a limit raise on the road is back on the agenda.  It will be interesting to see if the community has gotten on board with the limit raise of if the LAPD and LADOT are going to move forward with the proposal regardless.

It should also be noted that recently, a 60 year old pedestrian was killed in a crosswalk along Zelzah Avenue, when a truck made a right and slammed into her.

As for the proposed change at Victory Boulevard between the 405 and Shoup, this is a stretch of road I know well.  You see, my brother happens to live at the corner of Victory and Shoup and not once have I heard a complaint that traffic us just moving too darn slow.  I have heard complaints that vehicles get rear-ended on Shoup Boulevard because of a lack of a left hand turn signal and because traffic is often moving too fast and too close to the car in front of them when the lead car slows to make it’s left.

I have to admit to not being an expert on the other two routes, but if a Streetblogger wants to help fill me in, the comments section is open.

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