News

Council OKs 15 mph speed limits for school zones

Drivers take note: 15-mile-per-hour speed limits may be coming to a school near you.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to lower speed limits near 15 schools in Mountain View, though some of the more dangerous locations are left out of the plan.

In June, new speed limit signs will go up at all of the city's public and private schools, except for six schools. The schools where the speed limit won't go down include Graham Middle School, where several students were hit by cars in late 2012, spurring a push to narrow that portion of Castro Street from four to two lanes, now a funded city project that awaits council approval. State law prohibits the 15 mile-per-hour speed limits in areas where streets have at least four lanes or have speed limits above 30 miles per hour.

Resident Christian Hilty said his daughter "almost got hit twice" on Rock Street in front of Crittenden Middle School, one of the streets to get the new speed limit.

"People on Rock Street are going way to fast," Hilty said. "I've never once seen a police officer there. Because of the glare from the sun, it's very hard to see the kids. And people are doing 30 to 35 miles per hour down there."

Another resident questioned the effectiveness of simply lowering the speed limit, saying that flashing yellow lights would be more effective in letting drivers know about the presence of kids. Council members said that was an expensive solution, but that the city might be able to partner with schools to pay for it. The 15 mile-per-hour signs will cost the city $137,000.

"I don't want to create speed trap, that's not why we are doing this," said council member Jac Siegel.

Traffic engineer Sayed Fakhry said that lower speeds "reduces the severity of the injury" when collisions happen. According to the National Highway Traffic safety administration, only 5 percent of people die when hit by a car going 20 miles per hour or less, while the chances of death jump to 40 percent at 30 miles an hour or more.

Council member Ronit Bryant said there was no need to complicate the issue.

"There's a school, there's kids, and cars need to go slowly and that's all there is to it," Bryant said. "You would think there would be no need to say something like that but every parent who has kids has encountered the problem of people driving incredibly quickly by schools. It's a no brainer to me."

Other schools not affected by the change include Mountain View Academy, Saint Francis High School, Saint Joseph elementary school, Slater school and Landels elementary school. Landels is the only school on a two-lane street that does not qualify for the lower speed limit, because of Dana Street's 35 mile-per-hour speed limit there.

Comments

Posted by Shannon, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

It costs $137,000 for new speed limit signs? Good grief.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Jan 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

I support this decision. The 15 mph zones are rather small, so this shouldn't inconvenience drivers very much, not more than a few seconds while passing through the zone. On the other hand, a student who gets hit by a car going 25 mph is going to end up with much more serious injuries than one hit by a car going 15 mph.

As a father of three schoolchildren, I hope drivers abide by the new, lower, limits.

As an aside, I can't help but wonder why some new signage will cost $137,000. I would like to see the item by item breakdown for that invoice.


Posted by Rich, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm

From Wikipedia: "

In a review of the available research, the Committee for Guidance on Setting and Enforcing Speed Limits of the Transportation Research Board, part of the United States National Research Council, stated:

Studies of the effectiveness of school zone limits, however, have generally found poor driver compliance, particularly when the limits are set very low, and no relationship between pedestrian crashes and the special limits."

I suspect that the only result will be more being a little more numbed to the value of being law-abiding.

To paraphrase someone from long ago in a galaxy far far away, "The more you tighten your grip, the more citizens will slip through your fingers."


Posted by mom, a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jan 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

The biggest danger to kids on Rock St are the parents who drive there. They don't want to wait in the loading zone so they double park, make u-turns, stop in the intersection to load, or park across the street and encourage their kids to run across through traffic to meet them, all to make it faster and easier for themselves, and definitely NOT with the safety of others in mind. This happens every day. Although I support the lower speed zone, this won't stop drivers from randomly stopping wherever they want and loading kids while others wait or making u-turns through the school crosswalk, but I'm sure giving out a few well-deserved tickets will.


Posted by High School mom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

While I totally understand why parents feel this is a good thing, I cringe when I think of the result after they narrow Castro street and make their monster buildings there. Because Graham middle school is located so close by, in the morning this place is going to be a real zoo. I'll bet nobody took this into consideration. Traffic will be crawling through there and there will only be one lane. Geez, glad I won't have to endure that! In the long run, I doubt it will make everyone slow down. I do think, however, it will be a really great spot for ticketing, so it will help generate revenue for the city.


Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I live on San Pierre Way, and I assume practically the entire street will be a school zone---here comes that 15 mph speed!!!


Posted by Get used to it, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I LOVE it. Drivers are so selfish around here, even in school zones. During the morning school commute, its a daily sight to have some jerk zip their car across the cross walk, to blockade the path, forcing their car in front of pedestrians waiting to cross, even though the driver is not clear to proceed through the intersection. Basically, a big selfish "Screw the law, Me First!"

Why do presumably decent people become such JERKS when they get in their cars?
Anyway, a law is useless without enforcement, so looking forward to this law being useful very soon. The only thing most drivers understand are tickets and insurance cost increases, so let the understanding commence!


Posted by parent, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I agree that the worst drivers in school zones are parents. Hopefully this group is easy to reach and teach so that the cops don't have to vigorously enforce the new law. There are way too many pedestrians getting hit by cars in this city.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Random:

I was almost hit head-on by a young man on Castro Street (teenager to early twenties) who was riding his bike going the wrong direction in the right lane of traffic, all while not wearing a helmet and wearing earbuds. I think the young man had a death wish, or maybe was simply being lazy and stupid...either way, it would be appreciated if in addition to the police cracking down on speeding cars, that they also pull over these types of VERY dangerous bike riders.

Enforce the current laws on the books, please.




Posted by Probably74, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Where I come from (back East) the speed limit in school zones has always been 15 mph. People just do it. It's like bringing bags to the supermarket. Once we're used to the idea we mostly comply. I hope that works here. The speed humps don't seem to have slowed drivers on Bonita from El Camino towards Bubb! And, I agree, it's mostly parents with school kids who are speeding.


Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 15, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Many studies have been done on the impact of speed, one that stands out is by Eero Pasanen (1992). It reported that 5 percent of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, about 40 percent for vehicles traveling 30 mph.

The exact percents change based on how traffic studies are setup, but there is little dispute that slower speeds equal less force and slower speeds allow more time for drivers to react when children make mistakes walking/biking/skating to school.

Thank you city council for watching after the children.
Christopher Chiang
Mountain View Whisman School Board Trustee

The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


Posted by Roman, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm

What do we pay the police for?
To not hurt the feelings of rushed and selfcentered parents who ferry their children to school to keep them 'safe'??
Or to save the lives or a lifetime injury to our youth?
Lets get our priorities right.
The 15 MPH limit is just a good start.
Get an officer out there every day and give tickets until it is really safe for young people to attend school.


Posted by Mr Advice, a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Why not get a pressure sensitive sticker #1 to stick over the 2 in 25=15....


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Jan 16, 2014 at 8:24 am

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

I looked at the staff report, available here: Web Link

Which contains the breakdown:

The estimated project cost is as follows:
Construction - 80,000
Construction Contingencies - 8,000
Engineering Study - 20,000
Plans and Specifications - 12,000
Inspection - 8,000
Subtotal - 128,000
Administration (6.5%) - 8,500
Total - $137,000 (rounded)

I wonder if a more cost effective solution was considered. If the $137k bill was going to me personally, I would certainly ask if one was.


Posted by Driver, a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I see some are trying, but how can we shift focus and blame on cyclists???
As a driver, I don't feel comfortable that we seem to be the focus of all the blame. In my car I know I can do no wrong, so can't we point fingers at bikes?


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

USA is a registered user.

"I don't want to create speed trap, that's not why we are doing this," said council member Jac Siegel.

And yet, you are.

The crosswalks with the flashing lights are much more effective and would not slow traffic when children are not around.


Posted by bewildered, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Are we talking $137,000 to replace existing signs that say 25 with new signs that say 15? Or to install new posts and signs? In either case, that sounds like a ridiculously high amount.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

My point wasn't to "we shift focus and blame on cyclists". My point was simply to illustrate that I witness numerous safety hazards on the roads in this fair city...every single day. For example; vehicles & cyclists both = red light runners & blowing thru stop signs, vehicles speeding, pedestrians jay walking, bicyclists riding the wrong way on busy streets, etc. Every single one of these actions is prohibited by law, yet rarely do I see violators being cited for these violations.

California added over 800 new laws to the books in 2013...is everyone up to speed on what those new laws are and how they might affect your daily life?

What is the point of having laws if they are not going to be enforced, or are only selectively enforced? Seems like a lot of codification for the sake of codifying and not much else, yes/no?

BTW, why did Mountain View city council deny Chic-fil-A a permit to put a restaurant on El Camino Real citing potential problems with traffic, noise, pollution, bike & pedestrian safety...yet Five Guys burger joint wins approval on El Camino Real & Rengstorff? How does that work?


Anyway, just food for thought on a Thursday afternoon.



Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Here's some out of the box thinking.

How about making all these kids walk to school?

20-30 years ago you would not seen 10% of the cars you see sitting in front of our schools in the mornings and afternoons.

Why do we have to drive our kids to school? It's just a numbers game when it comes to kids getting hit. If you have more cars going down the road you're going to have more accidents.

Changing the speed from 25 to 15 is not going to make any difference.


Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm

...and to paraphrase the MVPD: "Cha-ching!"


Posted by Yahbut, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Otto, the problem is protecting all those kids that ARE walking to school.
If selfish drivers zip through intersections or force their cars in front of those legally trying to cross, adding more walking kids just increases the target opportunities.

The people that are the biggest offenders around the school in our neighborhood are commuters, speeding unchecked through a residential neighborhood with children present. Once driver behaviors are changed, the issues will become less frequent.


Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

Sorry, but I have kids in grade school. The worst offenders are parents dropping kids off. Once they get their kid out of the car they are in a hurry to get out of there.

So if all those kids had to walk to school, there would be less cars in the area.

I'm not saying it would be perfect. I just think we're not looking at the real problem.

It is already illegal to speed in front of the school. Now we're going to make "more illegal" somehow? It's not going to make a difference.


Posted by Anh, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:30 am

Walking is not an option for all. We live ~1hr (according to Google) walk away from MVHS. I believe the traffic flow around our school is badly planned. It forces too many left turns against oncoming traffic which causes traffic jams.


Posted by Yahbut, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

Sorry, Otto, you obviously don't have kids in the grade school my kids go to. Its the cut through commuters rolling intersections and rushing to get through the crowds crossing the streets that are the biggest offenders by far in my neighborhood. Let me repeat that: drivers are RUSHING through stops and crosswalk intersections in order to position themselves in front of peds, to cut off/block children from trying to cross before them. Professional men and women alone in their cars, viewing 7 and 8 year old kids as annoyances if they actually have to stop and wait. I see it daily as I walk my kids to school each day.

The cops don't need to be on the main drag, they need to be on the side streets. NOTHING will work better than enforcement of the current laws, and nobody should worry at all if they are obeying the current laws.
The scofflaws just need to be reminded of the current laws through enforcement.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

Wondering how many of the elementary and middle schools are using crossing guards during the morning drop off time and the 30 minutes or so after school lets out? If schools are not using crossing guards, why not? It sure seems to me like something that can be implemented with relative ease and minimal expense. I imagine it's something that PTA's could help organize and even have volunteers handle the duties if need be.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

I believe every school in the district has crossing guards at some crossings, but in may areas, there are simply too many intersections to put guards on every corner. The problems I see are on the corners not directly in front of the schools, and yes, agree that in my area, frustrated rushing commuters are the issue, trying to "push" through the congested area as quickly as they can, regardless of laws. The congestion is caused by pedestrians crossing the road, which during the peak 10 mins before school, can mean longer than normal waits. Some just cannot handle this. That's where tickets will help IMO.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Jan 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

@ Yahbut,

How about I meet you at 8:15 AM some schoolday next week, and take a video of the intersection you're referring to, and post the video here for people to see what you're talking about?

Email me at backtoschoolsmv at gmail dot com.

Greg


Posted by Yahbut, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Greg, sounds great. I've actually thought about doing it myself, but planned on turning it into the police dept. Hans and Bonita is a very good one to watch. Its a 4 way crossing and is a hotbed of bad stop sign behaviors. Not the majority by any means, but if you wait long enough you'll see them every day. 7:45 to 8:15 is prime. By 8:15 most of the congestion is pretty much over with. I'll introduce myself to the guy taking the video if I see you out there.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I agree with lowering speed limits around schools, yes I do agree it won't stop behaviour.

Why not bring back school buses.


Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2014 at 7:01 pm

The problem with most suggestions here is MONEY, and this is the same problem everywhere. School buses were canceled so the school districts could save money. That caused a whole lot more traffic and dumped the problem on the cities. The cities don't have enough money to pay for crossing guards everywhere. They don't have enough money to pay for enough cops to really control the streets. They can only do triage and write up the worst offenders. That is the reason that they don't ticket pedestrians and cyclists - too many bigger problems to deal with.

In most places the worst offenders are the parents driving to and from school, although they are not 100% of the problem. Nationally school-related traffic makes up about 30% of morning traffic, contributing to congestion which leads to impatience and bad behavior by drivers.

The city makes little or no money on traffic tickets because the county takes most of it to cover the costs of processing them. Lower speed limits do not necessarily result in lower speeds, but it may result in much higher punishment for speeders. A ticket for going more than 20 mph over the limit is a bigger deal than one for going 5 mph over the limit. A driver going 35 mph in a school zone now can get off with traffic school or a small fine. If the speed limit is 15 mph that will not be the case and they will go to jail for 60 days. Of course our jails are full, so that may not happen either.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm



It seems to me that school crossing guards are a huge asset during those busy drop off and pickup times. I think I read somewhere that Los Altos splits the $130,000 annual cost for crossing guards (at all Los Altos schools) between the school district and the city, and it seems to be an arrangement that has been working well for everyone...the students, the parents, the school district and the city.

I wonder if this is something Mountain View should explore as well?


Posted by Anna S., a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I support this, but....
Why will the new speed-limit signs cost $137,000? After all, the city prints them in-house! Perhaps it would be cheaper to buy them from an efficient manufacturer?
It's nickel-and-dime stuff like this that just makes no sense to me.
Signs? Come on. How much does each one cost to make?
How much does each one cost to put in place? Are we talking $137,000 in labor costs?
Greg, you excerpted a memo from the city on costs. It mentions construction. Construction? Of what? Signposts? Really, I wish someone competent would analyze these staff reports.


Posted by Tax Payer, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 18, 2014 at 6:46 am

The cheapest way around this is if drivers would obey the laws. If things were hunky dory, we wouldn't need this discussion, but because so many think being in their car makes them more important than the rest of the people on the road, here we are. The cheapest way is for drivers to change their actions behind the wheel. That my friends, is the most inexpensive fix, but some people simply cannot accept that, so we foot the bill for their selfishness.


Posted by Miramonte Ave resident, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

It is more of an issue with enforcement than with the posted limits. I live on Miramonte Ave right next to St Joseph elementary school. The posted limit is 25 mph, but it's the rare car that goes that speed. Most cars go at least 35 and it's not unusual to see cars going by at 40 or even 50 mph. It's ridiculous and I have never seen police out there writing tickets.

Enforcement of the speed limit near schools, whether it is 15 or 25 mph is the key.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Police can't be everywhere, as for speed limit signs, only numbers on a sign. Sad truth but if people don't stop, why would they observe a speed limit sign.

As a full time driver, I find dealing with airport passenger zones easier then schools.

Some things I want to point out with school zones.

Dropping Off and Picking Up, very small compared to a airport. Maybe 2 hours or less, that is counting morning and afternoon.

Don't double park, only.discharge your passengers curb side, know what park of the school is best.

Don't leave your car, if is to help with kids or any problem that is OK. Stay in line, be patient. Don't other cars from moving freely.

Maybe the school needs help, cones, lane attendants and crossing guards.

If you the need to park, park across the street, walk at crosswalk. The front of the school should be treated as a giant white. Passenger Loading or Unloading. No Parking.


Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 23, 2014 at 7:03 am

Sorry folks, I have kids in school and they have the same traffic complaints as the rest of you.

Yet when I WALK my kids to school I see LOTS of parents dropping off kids and then SPEEDING out of the area.

Once they drop their kids off it's someone else's problem apparently.

And don't tell me it's too far. I lived 2.7 miles away from my high school. I walked, frequently, took the VTA, or rode a bike. Imagine that.

I even took summer school in High School and that was over 5 miles from my house. I rode my bike every single day.

So enough with blaming everyone else. This is a problem created by the same people doing the complaining.

If you think there are too many cars near our schools them stop driving your kids to school.


Posted by Its more than one spot, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 23, 2014 at 11:49 am

"So enough with blaming everyone else." He said as he blamed others.

I will blame the offenders, and in MY area it is commuters who are the primary offenders, niot the parents, though they have their moments as well.

Remember that your observations are only a single data point in the issue. There are many other data point from schools in town. For instance, the area of Grant Road is primarily commuters. This is where the crossing guard got struck last year.

Yes, parents are driving poorly. Yes, commuters are driving poorly...you see where this is heading? DRIVERS are driving poorly in school zones.
We need ticketing campaigns!!! Roving motorcycle cops trading of going from school to school and correcting behaviors with their ticket books.


Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 26, 2014 at 8:04 am

Well I can't really blame myself as I WALK my kids to school.

Or am I somehow causing traffic and safety issues while walking on the sidewalk?

Fine, drivers are driving poorly. I think I've already said as much. I am also saying we need less drivers.

Instead of lowering the speed limit the police need to ticket people who block the lane. If you can't pull into the parking lot you need to keep moving.


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