(From Think U.K. Ad Campaign)
Some of you may or may not be aware that many streets through out California, ones with radar monitoring, have their speed limits periodically set by an 85th percentile standard, something bike activist and Bike Writers Collective ring leader Stephen Box has made a crusade of fighting. This means that if 85 percent of drivers during a periodic mandatory test window are speeding, than we bump the speed limit up, with no other concerns factored, and no input from the community. Pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, doesn't matter, if 85% of drivers want to drive faster than speed limit goes up.
Of course the speeding is presumed to be a fault of a speed limit set too low, rather then a fault of lack of law enforcement, light signaling or other design issues. I liken this logic to a convenience store that puts candy bars front and center and decides to let stealing candy bars slide even though he knows it is happening. Then when 85% of customers are now stealing candy bars with their other purchases, candy bars are then made free. Except no one dies from stealing candy bars, but speeding is a significant factor in many of the 40,000 annual American deaths by automobile in most years. Speed kills, and yet many roads that cut through heavily residential areas are being slated to be made faster, making illegally fast the new legal. Do you want to ride in a bike lane on a road where right next to you cars can legally go 50 mph? That is already happening in at least one case in the Valley.
However this whole system of logic can be put in check by greater community control over the roads that pass through them, if Paul Krekorian’s AB766 “Safe Streets” bill passes. This law would specifically counter act the automatic raising of speed limits, and give the communities effected a voice and power to define speed limits, instead of letting those passing through to have all the voting power with their gas pedal.
The Boxes, Stephen and Enci Box, are traveling to Sacramento to voice their support for this legislation, and bringing with them letters of support from the community. If you write your concerns about speeding automobiles and support for this bill to SafeStreets@BikeWritersCollective.com, you can add your voice to the chorus.
For more info check out Stephen's page about this whole ordeal, which includes background on this legislation and the speed increase issue with a newsletter sign up. Streetsblog LA also has a write up on the growing support for the bill, which includes the City Council and Mayor of Los Angeles.