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.