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Residents oppose increasing speed limit

CARLSBAD — A proposed speed limit increase on Carlsbad’s Aviara Parkway has some residents worried that their walkable community will become unsafe for pedestrians should the ordinance be approved.
Aviara resident Diane Lincoln has been leading an effort to challenge the proposed change — an increase of 5 miles, from the current 40 mph to 45 mph — offered up by Carlsbad’s traffic engineers.
“Aviara is promoted as a walking community, but we’ve had pedestrians lose their lives here,” Lincoln said. “It’s very contradictory to raise the speed limit and tell people that they should walk more.”
A recent traffic survey conducted by the city dictated the proposed change in speed. California law mandates that speed limits be reviewed and set at the closest 5-mile increment that at least 85 percent of drivers travel at, traffic engineer John Kim said.
“We’re not out there to arbitrarily raise the speed limits; they have a finite lifespan and we’re required to review them every five, seven or 10 years,” Kim said. “We did two speed surveys and the closest increment to both of those speeds is 45 miles per hour.”
Although the current speed limit wasn’t set to expire, police requested an early review based on their experiences in court, Kim said.
With a posted speed limit of 40 mph and a previous traffic survey showing drivers traveling at speeds as high as 49 mph, the area was technically deemed a speed trap, Kim said.
“Sometimes people have a hard time grasping this concept, but speed limits are governed by the conditions of the roadway,” Kim said. “They’re established by the prevailing speeds at which people drive and if they’re driving faster, we’re mandated by California laws to make the speed limit reflect that.”
However, Lincoln and other residents feel the city should consider what’s along the road — not the speed at which people travel — before setting a new speed limit.
“A radar machine can’t detect that this is heavily trafficked by pedestrians and that there’s two schools here,” Lincoln said. “We’re really worried about everyone’s safety.”
Though Lincoln said the city is looking at the issue as “black and white,” she and other residents hope to convince the council members otherwise.
“There are a lot of us that don’t want to see anyone else die on this road,” Lincoln said. “We’re going to keep trying to draw attention to the issue — safety needs to come first.”
An ordinance to approve the proposed Aviara Parkway speed limit increase will be presented to Carlsbad’s City Council in the coming weeks. For council meeting agendas, visit carlsbadca.gov.

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