When Did Speed Become So Important?

Unlike most residential streets in Eagle Rock, Yosemite Drive is quite busy and traffic tends to move fast. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour (MPH) – the same speed limit as that on Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock Boulevard, and North Figueroa Street – and some may think it has always been this way but that is not true.

See the below cropped image from 1960 at the corner of Yosemite Drive and Eagle Rock Boulevard, in which Yosemite Drive had a 25mph speed limit.

25mph.jpg

Image courtesy of Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society

By 1972, a photo from the same corner reveals the speed limit was raised to 30mph.

30mph.jpg

Image courtesy of Eagle Rock Historical Society

Today? The speed limit is 35mph.

35mph.jpg

Image via Google Maps

At an uninterrupted 25mph, it would take an estimated 4 minutes to travel along the 1.5 mile corridor of Yosemite Drive from North Figueroa Street to Eagle Rock Boulevard. At 35mph? It takes an estimated 3 minute. Drivers save, at best, one minute of time but the street becomes far less pleasant for residents and discourages people from walking and bicycling, modes of travel that are good for one’s health. When did speed, and the ability to save one minute of travel time, become so important that we willingly sacrifice everyday quality of life and health?

Of course, an obscure State law prevents us from simply lowering speed limits, and in fact makes it such that we must raise the speed limit in response to people speeding. So what can we do at this stage if we want to restore the more residential 25mph speed limit? Well, it’s quite simple: Either we implement traffic calming so that people decide to travel at a reasonable 25mph, or it’s only matter of time before the speed limit on Yosemite goes up to 40mph and becomes even more hostile to pedestrians.

2 thoughts on “When Did Speed Become So Important?

  1. Check out Texas HB 87 from the 2005 session, which was signed into law to allow local municipalities to more easily lower speed limits on residential streets.

  2. Pingback: Today’s Headlines – Streetsblog Los Angeles

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