City aims to brake darting drivers

Drivers charging down Redwood City’s residential blocks are causing fender-benders, endangering pedestrians and raising concerns that some city speed limits are set too high, officials said.

In May, the City Council will discuss lowering the speed limit for six residential stretches of road from 30 mph to 25 mph. A few have already seen sign changes, but they haven’t officially been entered into the city ordinance, city spokesman Malcolm Smith said.

“The accident rates [for all residential streets in question] were higher, and sometimes significantly higher, than the state,” Smith said.

On Broadway between Fifth and Second avenues, one of the stretches considered, accidents occur at twice the state average rate for a similar residential road — about 5.5 accidents per million vehicle miles traveled, according to the latest city data.

The proposed changes are the latest on a long list of measures by the city to curb speeding that has frightened pedestrians and led to injury or death, officials said. Two years ago, an accident involving a speeding driver killed four people on East Bayshore Road.

Last year, the city installed red-light cameras at three of the city’s busiest intersections: Woodside Road and Veterans Boulevard; the intersection of Woodside, Broadway and the Bayshore Freeway offramp; and Veterans Boulevard and Whipple Avenue.

Last winter, the city installed rubber traffic chokers along McGarvey Avenue near Chesterton Avenue and Fernside Street after residents there complained of having their cars totaled, their pets killed and their trees damaged by speeding drivers.

Smith said the speed-limit changes were prompted not only by high accident rates but also by resident input and safety concerns.

“Communities desiring traffic calming in these areas is very strong,” he said.

No speed limit in Redwood City is over 35 mph, but that doesn’t mean cars haven’t been driving at unsafe speeds, Redwood City police Detective Erik Stasiak said.

“The majority of accidents are either speeding or drivers not paying attention, such as talking on cell phones and texting,” Stasiak said.

Faster, more modern cars on the roads also share blame for unsafe conditions.

“The way cars are made these days, drivers are insulated from the outside and feel very safe going fast,” said Peter Vorametsanti, senior civil engineer. “They tend to go a little faster than the speed limit.”

maldax@examiner.com

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