News Details

Citywide Engineering and Traffic Speed Surveys

 

 Summary 

 Community Workshops 

 Background 

 Objective  

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Report Summary
Speed limits in California are governed by the California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 627, 22348 through 22413 and 40802. In conformance with state law, vehicle speed laws can only be enforced using radar when speed limits are determined by an Engineering and Traffic Survey. An Engineering and Traffic Survey is an engineering analysis of the prevailing speeds and a review of the traffic conditions of the roadway. Engineering and Traffic Surveys for many Palo Alto streets are currently expired and, hence, the Police Department is unable to enforce the speed limits using radar. The updated Engineering and Traffic Surveys are intended to serve as the basis for the establishment and enforcement of speed limits for certain street segments within the City of Palo Alto. Staff is proposing to gather community input on alternatives to raising speed limits where dictated by the results of the surveys, and will return to the City Council for action in mid-2017.


Community Workshops:

Citywide Engineering & Traffic Speed Surveys (North Palo Alto)
March 2, 2017
6:00PM - 8:00PM
Palo Alto Arts Center, 1313 Newell Rd, Palo Alto

At this meeting, the preliminary Citywide Engineering & Traffic Surveys will be discussed with a focus on the street segments in North Palo Alto listed below. Based on the early analysis, these street segments have average speeds that exceed the posted speed limit. At this meeting, City staff will gather community input on alternatives to increasing the posted speed limit and whether the posted speed limit should be raised to facilitate radar speed enforcement.  

  • Alma St from University Ave to Lincoln Ave
  • Embarcadero Rd from the Baylands to Alma St
  • University Ave from eastern city limits to Middlefield Rd

Collision Statistics and Concept plans presented at this meeting can be viewed at the following links:

 Collision Statistics and Diagram

Concept Plans 

 University Avenue Segment #65  University Avenue Segment #65
 Alma Street Segment #1  Alma Street #1
   Embarcadero Road Segment #29 (East of Fwy 101)
 Embarcadero Road Segment #30 (Fwy 101 to Middlefield)  Embarcadero Road Segment #30 (Fwy 101 to Middlefield)
 Embarcadero Road Segment #31 (Middlefield to Alma)  Embarcadero Road Segment #31 (Middlefield to Alma)

Citywide Engineering and Speed Surveys (South Palo Alto)
March 9, 2017
6:00PM - 8:00PM
Cubberley Community Center, Room H1, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto

At this meeting Citywide Engineering & Traffic Surveys Study will be discussed with primary focus on the following street segments in South Palo Alto. Based on the analysis these street segments would need an increase in the posted speed limit in order to conduct radar enforcement. Staff will gather community input on alternatives to raising speed limits.  

  • E Bayshore Rd from Embarcadero Rd to San Antonio Rd
  • Middlefield Rd from Oregon Expwy to southern city limits
  • Coyote Hill Rd from Page Mill Rd to Hillview Ave
  • Deer Creek Rd from Page Mill Rd to Arastradero Rd

Collision Statistics and Concept plans presented at this meeting can be viewed at the following links:

 Collision Statistics and Diagram

Concept Plans 

 East Bayshore Segment #24 & 25 East Bayshore Segment #24
East Bayshore Segment #25
 Coyote Hill Road Segment #22  Coyote Hill Road Segment #22
Deer Creek Road Segment #23 Deer Creek Road Segment #23
Middlefield Road Segment #50 & 51 Middlefield Road Segment #50 Part 1
Middlefield Road Segment #50 Part 2
Middlefield Road Segment #54



Background

Speed zones are primarily established to protect the public from the unreasonable behavior of reckless, unreliable, or otherwise dangerous drivers. Speed limits are generally established at or near the 85th percentile speed, which is defined as the speed at or below which 85 percent of traffic is moving. Speed limits established on this basis conform to the consensus of those who drive on the roadways as to what speed is reasonable and safe, and are not dependent on the judgment of one or a few individuals. An Engineering and Traffic Survey, as defined in Section 627 of the CVC, must consider the prevailing speeds, collision records, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and roadway traffic and roadside conditions. Speed zones are also established to advise motorists of road conditions or hazards, which may not be readily apparent to a reasonable driver. For this reason, a field review of related road and traffic variables is conducted which is considered in combination with the statistical data and collision history of a particular roadway segment to determine a safe and reasonable speed limit. 

As per California Vehicle Code 40802, the speed limit of 25 miles per hour (mph) has been established on designated local streets in Palo Alto that are less than 40 feet in width. In 2014, speed surveys were conducted for 34 residential arterial and collector street segments within the City. The results of that study indicated a recommendation to increase speed limits along 18 street segments and validated 16 remaining street segments. These results were not brought forward for review in 2014, and new surveys are currently underway. In the future, staff intends to establish a consolidated and reoccurring Engineering and Speed Survey cycle for all street segments every 5 to 7 years as required.





Objective
The objective of the ongoing surveys is to analyze all arterial and collector streets (70 street segments) in Palo Alto’s Street Network system and to recommend appropriate speed limits for each of these street segments consistent with the laws and practices of the State of California. In addition, as a part of this project, an aspirational target speed will be identified if the survey recommends increasing the speed limit along a particular roadway segment. The target speed is not based on operating or prevailing speeds but considered factors such as residential density, bicycle safety, roadside conditions, adjacent land use, and potential conflicts with pedestrians, bicyclists, and residential or business districts. Staff intends to use the target speed to determine various physical characteristics, geometric design features and implement traffic calming measures for streets within Palo Alto in the future. When identifying recommended speed limits, staff also considered the findings of the study completed in 2012, per California Assembly Bill (AB) 321, to reduce the speed limit to 15 or 20 mph within 500 feet of the school grounds, under certain conditions.

Results of the analysis performed in preparing Engineering and Traffic Surveys for the City of Palo Alto

These surveys were authorized by the City and conducted by the consulting firm Stantec. These surveys were performed in accordance with the requirements of the California Vehicle Code and the California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CA-MUTCD). This provides the 2014 California Manual for Setting Speed Limits published by Caltrans: http://www.dot.ca.gov/trafficops/camutcd/docs/california-manual-for-setting-speed-limits.pdf

A study session was held on November 9, 2016 with the Planning and Transportation and on November 21, 2016, with the City Council.
 
November 9th, Planning and Transportation Study Session staff report
November 21st, City Council Study Session staff report




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Last Updated December 8, 2016