On Jan. 13, Carpinteria City Council voted to decrease the speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph on El Carro Lane between Linden Avenue and Trenora Street when children are present. The decision came after a Speed Zone Survey conducted by the city concluded that the area, close to Canalino Elementary School, experienced heavy car and foot traffic during school drop off and pick up times potentially creating greater risks for traffic collisions and accidents.
Based on the survey, sections of Via Real, Linden and Carpinteria avenues, among other roads, will also be considered for speed limit adjustments.
Guidelines for setting speed limits are established by Caltrans. For speed zones to be enforceable, an Engineering and Traffic Study including a Speed Zone Survey is required. In the process of conducting the survey, city staff compared posted speed limits to the legally recorded speed limits and found that there were roadways in Carpinteria that had speed limits that were unenforceable because no previous Speed Zone Survey had been conducted or speed limit adjustment recorded in the vehicle code.
Staff noted that Carpinteria Avenue through downtown, currently posted at 25 mph, had never been surveyed before the current study, which means that “the legal speed limit is 50 mph regardless of what is posted.” However, the current survey’s findings support a 25-mph limit and the change will be codified. “We have some clean-up to do,” noted city staff.
Several councilmembers pointed out the need for not only adjusting speed limits but also enforcing them. “We’ve talked about people speeding on that street for several meetings,” said Councilman Gregg Carty, “It doesn’t matter what the speed limit is… people drive whatever they want and if it isn’t enforced, they just keep speeding.”
According to the staff report, speed limits are generally set based on the prevailing speed of existing traffic, reported collision history and adjacent land uses. Speed limits are lowered when there are greater incidents of traffic accidents, higher density development, adjacent land uses (such as school zones), and bicycle and/or pedestrian activity.
In the upcoming months, City Council is expected to hear additional recommendations for speed limit adjustments.