Vroom! Eleven More Miles of Faster Cars Coming to the Valley

This Wednesday at 2:00 P.M., the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meets to deal with a backlog of speed limit increases and setting "prima facie" limits on several other streets.

For any new readers, state law requires that speed limits be set at the 85th percentile of automobile traffic speeds to avoid being labeled a "speed trap."  If a municipality fails to set the speed by these standards, then they lose enforcement power with radar devices.  Because Los Angeles is a city designed to move car traffic as quickly as possible, you can imagine what happens when surveys are done to see how fast people are driving.  If there is a provable compelling reason, the city can round down.  But as we saw last month, people walking on the road in an area with higher than average crashes partially caused by the speed of the vehicle is not a reason to keep speed limits below the 85th percentile.

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The first street on the docket for an increase is Branford Street between San Fernando Road and Woodman Avenue.  This 2.3 mile stretch of road runs past two parks, but isn’t moving enough car traffic.  Pending Council action, the limit will increase from 30 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour on this four lane road.  To be fair to the LADOT, the study area for this traffic speed survey was Glen Oaks Boulevard to San Fernando Road, an additional .7 of a mile.  While the traffic survey showed that traffic on Branford Street between Glen Oaks Boulevard and Woodman Avenue moves at 35 miles per hour at the eighty-fifth percentile, but because there are irregularities in the car parking and a high amount of pedestrian traffic and crossings, they recommended keeping the limit at the current speed for this three-quarters of a mile stretch or road.

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The other increase on the agenda is an increase from 35 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. along over eight miles of roadway on Sherman Way between Balboa Boulevard and Clybourn Avenue.  There’s no silver lining to this story, as the entire segment of roadway, some of which is two lanes and some of which is four, be designated a 40 m.p.h. route.

Last year, responding to a question from Councilman Alarcon, the LADOT promised that even though so far the increases have been confined to the Valley; that’s just where they’re starting.  In the coming years, the increases will come to a street near you.

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