Assembly Bill 43 (Friedman), passed in 2021, allows cities to set lower speed limits in specific situations. The 85% percentile rule says that speed limits should be set at the speed 85% of drivers are going, the prevailing speed, causes speed limits to increase, as drivers reset their normal speed to be somewhat over the posted speed limit. So speed limits continue to go up and will never go down again. This legislation is the second attempt to reverse that trend and that craziness.
The bill adds to a few limited circumstances where speed limits can be lowered to include ‘business activity districts’ (now), and concentrations of pedestrians and bicyclists and ‘safety corridors’ starting June 2024. There are a lot of details that will have to be worked out by local entities before implementation.
The first bill, AB 321 (Nava), allows cities to lower speed limits in school zones to 20 mph or 15 mph. The City of Sacramento did take advantage of this earlier law to lower speed limits at 115 schools. (City of Sacramento reduces speed limit in school zones)
A few cities are moving forward to implement lower speed limits in the situations the new law allows:
- New Law Brings Safer Speed Limits to San Francisco (SFMTA)
- Lower Speed Limits Could Be Coming To LA (Eventually). Here’s What Will Change (LAist)
- L.A. City Council Transportation Committee Approves Unprecedented Speed Limit Reductions (Streetsblog LA)
- Oakland could soon reduce speed limits on dangerous streets. Will that make them safer? (Oaklandside)
- there may be other cities, but an Internet search did not surface any
This option is available to all cities and counties in the Sacramento region. Which will be the first to step up and slow down?
Yes, I know that better design of the roadway is the most effective method for reducing speeds and increasing safety, but infrastructure changes are expensive and slow to be implemented. This bill will save lives and reduce severe injury in the meanwhile.