Over 100 stretches of Long Beach streets could see their speed limits decreased if the City Council approves a list of proposed changes that were made under a new state law that grants municipalities more discretion in lowering speeds.
Many of the changes the City Council will weigh on Tuesday are being proposed in areas of the city that have a lot of pedestrian foot traffic, like Downtown and the city’s business and bike corridors, with many streets being proposed for a speed limit of 20 mph or less.
Large corridors like Long Beach Boulevard, Seventh Street and Cherry Avenue could also see reductions if the council agrees to move forward with the recommended speed decreases.
Joy Contreras, a spokesperson for Public Works, said the city used its Safe Streets Beach Plan, which aimed to reduce fatal and serious injury collisions to zero by 2026, to guide the proposed reductions. Contreras said the city is following what other cities have called a “20 is plenty” campaign to reduce speeds to 20 mph or less where survey results show they can be lowered.
“Not only is it catchy, but at that speed limit, if someone were to get hit, it limits the amount of harm that can be done,” Contreras said.
The National Highway Safety Association says that a person hit by a vehicle going 20 mph has a 5% chance of dying, while a person hit by a vehicle going 30 mph has a 40% chance of dying. The number goes up to 80% for vehicles traveling 40 mph.
Assembly Bill 43 was adopted by state lawmakers in an attempt to help drive down pedestrian and driver deaths as national trends showed an increase in fatal vehicle collisions despite a drop in vehicle miles traveled.
In Long Beach, there have been 40 traffic fatalities involving 24 pedestrians this year as of Nov. 24.
Of the 107 street segments identified by Public Works for possible reductions, 23 could be reduced to 15-20 mph speed limits. That includes stretches of residential streets like Temple and Termino avenues and The Toledo in Belmont Shore, which is one of the segments that is recommended to have a 15 mph section between Second Street and Appian Way.
The Second Street business corridor, where many permanent outdoor dining parklets have been applied for, could be lowered to 20 mph from Livingston Drive to Bay Shore Avenue. The same speed limit could be set for Fourth Street along the Retro Row business corridor.
Broadway could be limited to 20-25 mph from the 710 Freeway to Livingston Drive under the proposed reductions.
Contreras said that the city was looking at lowering speed limits before the new law went into effect and could look to survey more often in an effort to identify more streets for reductions.
She said the city is working on an outreach campaign to inform the community of any potential changes that get adopted by the council so they can be informed of the speed reductions. Once the council formally adopts the changes, it could still be some time before all the new signage is installed, but Contreras said that could happen in early 2023.