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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Speed Limits Set Higher in Windemere

The San Ramon City Council passed an ordinance increasing the speed limits on Albion Road, East Branch Parkway, Monarch Road and Windemere Parkway.

  • 30 MPH on Albion Road, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Windemere Parkway.
  • 40 MPH on East Branch Parkway, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Windemere Parkway.
  • 40 MPH on Monarch Road, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Dougherty Road,
  • 40 MPH on Windemere Parkway, from Bollinger Canyon Road to East Branch Parkway.
Doug Burr, who has brought two proposed initiatives to include stop signs and a speed limit of 30 MPH for all of Windemere Parkway and East Branch Parkway spoke out against the increased 40 MPH speed limits on these roads. Doug reported that other cities have implemented exactly what his initiatives are to reduce speeds and make it safer for the children. Doug asked the City Council to vote against the 40 MPH increase in speeds indicating that setting the speed limits higher will likely result in even higher speeds in the future.

City Staff reported that because a traffic study showed that the average speeds are currently above the 30 MPH speed limits (45.8 miles per hour on Windemere Parkway and 40.17 miles per hour on East Branch Parkway based on the traffic study) that setting the speed limits at 30 MPH would make it unenforceable by the police using radar according to state law. According to staff, the 85'th percentile speed is set in 5 mph increments, rounded to the nearest 5 mph. The City Traffic Engineer has the discretion to lower the rounded 85'th percentile speed by 5 miles per hour. If the posted speed limit is not based on an Engineering and Traffic Survey, then the roadway is considered a speed trap and unenforceable by radar in the State of California.

Areas within 500 ft of schools would still have a 25 mph school zone, but only when children are present. There is a legislative proposal that would increase the area to include 1000 ft where schools are present. City staff is also formulating increased coverage for parks and recreation areas to also be included in the 25 mph zones, but only when children are present. This would have to be voted on by City Council to incorporate this into the entire City of San Ramon Parks and Recreation areas.

Traffic LightDoughery Valley Traffic Signals are being planned for many of the intersections on Windemere Parkway and East Branch Parkway. According to the Traffic Signal Engineer, lights can be timed to allow for a smooth flow of traffic through the area with lights timed in waves to any speed limit desired.

While traffic lights are in fact generally designed to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic, they are not exactly an effective measure for reducing speeds.

Under a coordinated control system for synchronizing the signals speed is self-regulated; drivers traveling too fast will arrive on a red indication and end up stopping, drivers traveling too slowly will not arrive at the next signal in time to utilize the green indication. In synchronized systems, however, drivers will often use excessive speed in order to "make" as many lights as possible. (See traffic lights)

It is also important to note that the scheduled opening in the spring of 2008 of Windemere Parkway to Camino Tassajara connection will significantly increase traffic on the roadway, and is anticipated that speeds will increase once that occurs.

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