Officials for the City of Riverbank are proposing increasing the speed limits soon on 13 local street segments. According to state Traffic Codes, the increases are required if patrols want to use radar to enforce limits there.
Streets involved include California Street, Claribel Road, two locations on Claus Road, Morrill Road, two spots on Oakdale Road, Roselle Avenue, Santa Fe Street, Snedigar Road, Squire Wells Way, Terminal Avenue, and Antique Rose Way.
Most of the streets will see a five mile an hour increase, some from 25 to 30 mph, some from 35 to 40 mph, and three from 45 to 50 mph. One, Claus Road between California Street and Highway 108 (Atchison Street) is to be reduced from 45 to 40 mph. That stretch goes past Riverbank High School.
To change speed limits and enforce them using radar, the state vehicle code requires an Engineering and Traffic Study (ETS). According to the staff report, setting of speed limits requires the ETS support them, otherwise, the city could be accused of setting “speed traps.”
The report points out that the state traffic manual governing the studies “provides that speed limits are generally established at or near the 85th percentile, which is defined as the speed at or below which 85 percent of traffic is moving.”
So, that means that if only 15 percent of the cars traveling on a particular street follow the posted speed limit but 85 percent go faster, the state says the limit ought to be raised.
According to the report, “Speed limits established on this basis conform to the consensus of those who drive on the roadways as to what speed is reasonable and safe, and are not dependent on the judgment of a few individuals. Speed limits higher than the 85th percentile are not generally considered reasonable and prudent, while speed limits below the 85th percentile do not ordinarily facilitate the orderly movement of traffic and require extensive enforcement to maintain compliance.”
The traffic study was conducted in April this year to analyze whether speed limits on 16 street segments should be updated. Those segments were suggested by Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely.
According to the staff report, the study recommended decreasing the speed limit on one segment, Claus Road, increasing the limit on 11 segments around town and maintaining the speed limits on six street segments.
During the study, patrolmen provided comments regarding Squire Wells Way and River Cove Drive.
Along River Cove, officers have received complaints that drivers “disobey speed limits, fail to adhere to stop signs, and drive around school buses,” according to the report. The study recommends maintaining the 25 mph speed limit instead of increasing it to 30 mph.
The study recommended increasing the limit on Squire Wells Way from 25 to 35 mph. Here, the report said, deputies noted a “high amount of pedestrian traffic, including school children and others, going to and from Crossroad Shopping Center.”
The ETS recommended increasing the limit from 25 to 35 mph there, but taking officer observations into account, it justifies an increase to just 30 mph.
In addition to River Cove Drive, four other streets are being recommended for no change:
First Street, from Patterson Road north to the city limits (at the river) is to remain at 30 mph; Patterson Road between the Callander stoplight (Highway 108) and Central Avenue, just past the high school; Crawford Road, between Oakdale and Roselle to remain at 35 mph; and Santa Fe Street, east of Claus Road to Snedigar, to remain at 40 mph.
Before concluding council discussion, following public input, Mayor Richard O’Brien suggested waiting to finish the first reading later, and the council voted to continue the reading so the mayor and others could drive the designated streets and see firsthand what they were like.