San Mateo is exploring reducing speed limits near eligible K-12 schools to reduce crashes and increase safety for students and families walking and biking to school, with the City Council also interested in expanding eligibility to all preschools.

“I think this is one of the most important things we can do as a City Council. This is what municipal government is all about. I really feel the safety of our citizens is paramount, so I’m ready to get to work on this,” Councilmember Diane Papan said.

The current speed limit at San Mateo schools is 25 mph, with the city interested in reductions to 15 mph and extending 25 mph school zones on streets. The City Council, at its Oct. 18 study session, supported speed reductions to 15 mph for all eligible public and private schools, allocating existing funding for policy adoption instead of from future budgets and phased implementation. California Vehicle Code allows municipalities to establish certain speeds limits of 15 mph school zones on streets touching the school and within 500 feet of the school boundary.

San Mateo identified 34 public and private schools serving kindergarten through high school within the city. Of the 61 streets near these schools, 11 did not qualify for the school zone speed limit because they have more than two total through traffic lanes and 12 because they are not in residence districts, a city report said. Aragon High School is ineligible because it is on Alameda de las Pulgas and has more through traffic lanes than allowed under California Vehicle Code criteria. Qualified streets must have no more than two through traffic lanes, a posted speed limit of 30 mph or lower, meet density requirements and be contiguous to a school. Of the 34 schools in San Mateo, 11 do not have any qualifying streets. The remaining 23 schools have 38 streets that would cost $245,000 to upgrade. Phased project implementation is being proposed and would start with elementary schools and then go to middle and high schools.

Staff said a reduction in speed limits would increase bike and pedestrian safety around schools and reduce the severity of collisions. Staff did not expect a huge traffic impact, with an increase of less than a minute for drivers traveling in the areas.

Councilmember Joe Goethals touted slower speed limits as helpful ways to ensure safer situations for kids and fewer injuries. He favored looking at expanding it to preschools and allocating existing funding in this budget cycle under a phased implementation.

“I do think there is something to be learned from a phased implementation. That as we go, we will understand the challenges that we face, where there needs to be additional signage and what kinds of complaints we get early on,” Goethals said.

Councilmember Amourence Lee favored starting with the current K-12 eligible schools and expanding the definition of schools to include small businesses that run preschools.

“More analysis would be required for us to broadly implement this at every day care and every preschool. I would prioritize looking at the licensed child care centers first just because they are more established and they usually have more students,” Lee said.

Papan supported school limits at 15 mph to ensure consistency throughout the city, allocating existing funding for immediate policy implementation and looking at preschool options.

Public speakers all spoke in favor of lower speed limits at schools to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Some wanted to see policy expanded to all schools currently ineligible if possible. Staff will now refine speed limit boundaries, identify funding and present a final resolution for council approval. The city would also coordinate with the San Mateo Police Department for education and enforcement of the new speed zones.

curtis@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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(1) comment

BenToy

GREAT news !

But, the issue is with those who break the current speed limit laws & signage.

They will continue to disobey new and lower speed limit signs.

Maybe initial enforcement will curb them somewhat, but once that phase ends...they will resume their lawbreaking by not following posted speed limit signage

IMHO, these new speed laws/rules & signs, MUST include HARD measures to ensure that drivers obey speed limits.

Meaning Traffic Calming measures like: rumble strips, speed humps, bulbouts, chicanes, etc. They are static but manage the dynamics of speed with the laws of physics that can and will cause damage to the offending drivers vehicles

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