TRAFFIC & TRANSPORTATION FAQ's

    

Common questions and answers for everyday traffic operations in the City of Calabasas

We have motorists speeding on our City streets. How can you help us with this problem?
Can the City install speed humps on my street?
Can the City lower the speed limit on a particular street?
How can I get a speed limit sign on my street?
Can I get “children at play” signs installed on my street?
How do I request a crosswalk?
Can you install a stop sign to reduce speeding?
How do I get a traffic signal?
How do I get a left-turn signal?
Can you synchronize the signals along a particular arterial?
I cannot see the oncoming traffic at a particular intersection or when exiting my driveway. Can you help?
Can I paint the curb red and install my own traffic signs on my street?
Safety tips for children
"How to Use a Roundabout"

 

Q: WE HAVE MOTORISTS SPEEDING ON OUR CITY STREETS.  HOW CAN YOU HELP US WITH THIS PROBLEM?

A: Speeding is a behavioral issue that comes out of the demand of our increasingly busy lives.  People often drive faster from their homes to their destinations and vice versa.  The City’s Traffic Division receives several hundred complaints each year from concerned citizens regarding speeding, especially on their residential streets.

The City of Calabasas implements the following actions to respond to speeding complaints:

  • The City works with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide selective speed enforcement in different areas of the City.  However, limited resources prevent them from targeting all areas at all times.

Q: CAN THE CITY INSTALL SPEED HUMPS ON MY STREET?

A: 
Speeding on residential streets is a common complaint reported by concerned citizens throughout the City.  Speed humps are often requested because they are perceived as a quick and effective solution to speeding.  Research has shown, however, that speed humps are not always an effective or safe traffic control device.

  • Speed humps will only be installed upon approval of the City Council, after a public hearing and in conformance with the standard design in effect at the time of installation.

  • Speed humps are still considered experimental roadway features.  Therefore, additions, alterations or removals of any and all speed humps may occur at any time.

Q: CAN THE CITY LOWER THE SPEED LIMIT ON A PARTICULAR STREET?

A: State law requires local agencies to establish speed limits based on traffic engineering surveys.  The City of Calabasas conducts speed surveys Citywide once every five years.  These surveys include an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records, and a sampling of the prevailing speed of traffic.  The prevailing speed is determined by measuring existing speeds of motorists during free-flow (typically off-peak) within the respective zone.  A safe and reasonable speed limit is set at or below the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are moving.

Speed limits set above the prevailing speed are generally considered unreasonable and unsafe.  Conversely, speed limits set below the prevailing speed do not provide for the orderly movements of traffic.  Lowering the speed limit more than what is considered appropriate is counterproductive, since the Sheriff’s department will be unable to efficiently enforce speeds.  Traffic flowing at a uniform speed results in increased safety and fewer accidents.  Drivers are less impatient, pass less often, and tailgate less, which reduces both head-on and rear-end collisions.

Citizens often request that the speed limit be lower than 25 mph on residential streets in an effort to slow traffic.  The 25 mph speed limit on residential streets is established by State law and set automatically based on conditions defined in the California Vehicle Code.  This speed limit, which is often referred to as “prima facie” limit does not require posting signs for enforcement.  If the speed limit on residential streets is lowered more than the prima facie limit, drivers will ignore it and will continue to drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable.  Other prima facie speed limits include the 25 mph speed limit in a business district, 25 mph in school zones and when children are present, and 15 mph in alley.

Q: HOW CAN I GET A SPEED LIMIT SIGN ON MY STREET?

A: 
In California, the maximum speed limit for passenger cars, trucks and all vehicles towing trailers is 65 mph.  However, selected freeways in rural areas may be posted to permit a maximum of 70 mph for passenger cars only.  These are absolute limits, which may not be legally exceeded under any circumstances.

All other speed limits are called prima facie limits (“on the face of it) which are deemed reasonable and prudent under normal conditions.

Most prima facie limits are established by State and local authorities who are permitted to set speed limits between 25 and 65 mph on the basis of an engineering and traffic survey.  For these prima facie limits, sign posting is required.

The City installs speed limit signs on all major roadways.  However, traffic engineers may recommend that a speed limit sign of 25 mph be posted at the entrance to a residential neighborhood from a major roadway with a high speed limit to get motorists attention entering a lower speed zone.

Q: CAN I GET “CHILDREN AT PLAY” SIGNS INSTALLED ON MY STREET?

A: 
“Children at Play” signs and similar signs are not recognized by the State of California or by the Federal Highway Administration as an official traffic control device and therefore, are not installed by the City on public streets.

Many people believe that “Children at Play” signs and similar signs, such as “SLOW” OR “SLOW ENTERING RESIDENTIAL AREA” enhance the children’s safety, but may not realize that there are many safety concerns about the use of these signs.

“Children at Play” signs send the wrong message to our younger citizens by encouraging them to play within the street.  The City discourages this behavior, as a pedestrian’s interactions with automobiles could result in severe traffic safety consequences.  In addition, “Children at Play” signs tend to create a false belief for children by letting them assume they are safer where signs are installed.  Such signs have been proven to be ineffective in providing added protection for children, and the signs presence could negatively affect the children’s safety on our streets.

Unnecessary signs can confuse and annoy drivers and foster disrespect for all signs.  Signs in accordance with the State of California’s Traffic Manual can and should be posted for school zones and pedestrian crossings, where a need exists.

The City provides many neighborhood parks and our beautiful De Anza Park where children can play safely with proper supervision.  In addition, the City has many other recreational opportunities for the public, including the Agoura/Calabasas Community Center and the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center.

Q: HOW DO I REQUEST A CROSSWALK?

A: 
A crosswalk is the portion of a roadway at an intersection that is the extension of the sidewalk and curb lines of the intersecting streets, or is any other portion of a roadway marked as a pedestrian crossing by painted lines.  Crosswalks are either “marked or unmarked”.  A marked crosswalk is delineated by white or yellow painted markings placed on the pavement.  It is the City’s policy not to paint or mark crosswalks at locations where traffic is not controlled bv a stop sign or traffic signal.  In general, crosswalks should be viewed as channelization devices rather than safety devices.  Marking a crosswalk does not always increase the safety of pedestrians.  Research studies suggest that marked crosswalks may give pedestrians a false sense of security.  Pedestrians often step off the curb into the crosswalk expecting the approaching drivers to stop.  The crosswalk markings, however, may not always be readily apparent to drivers from a safe stopping distance.  As a result, drivers sometimes are unable to or fail to stop, causing an accident.  Although drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks, two painted lines do not provide protection against an on-coming vehicle.

Q: CAN YOU INSTALL A STOP SIGN TO REDUCE SPEEDING?

A: 
It is not uncommon for the City to receive requests to install stop signs as a way to reduce speeding.  However, the purpose of stop signs is to assign right-of-way at an intersection, not to control speeding.  Research also shows that other measures are often more effective than adding more stop signs.  Public understanding of the functions of stop signs is one of the most critical elements in reducing speeding and traffic accidents.  The following information explains our policies and the correct use of stop signs.

Installation Policies:  The Federal Uniform Traffic Control Devices Manual dictates the size, shape and color of all traffic signs.  This manual has guidelines for installing signs in an attempt to create uniformity from state to state.  The State of California has a traffic manual, which is consistent with the Federal Manual.  The City complies with the guidelines of the State Traffic Manual.  These guidelines identify specific conditions that must be present at the intersection before these traffic control devices may be installed.  For stop signs, these conditions relate to traffic and pedestrian volumes, accident history, delay, and traffic speeds.  The City will install stop signs at an intersection only after a careful engineering evaluation of the existing conditions indicates that their installation is appropriate.

Alternatives:  If the concern is intersection safety, our experience has shown that simply restriping or improving intersection visability by prohibiting parking near the intersection can be more effective in improving safety.  This often reduces the need to install m ore restrictive intersection controls.

This is important because installation of unwarranted stop signs breeds disrespect by motorists and reduces their effectiveness.  In fact, unwarranted stop signs could actually cause increased speeds by impatient motorists that view the additional delay as lost time to be made up between stop signs.  More importantly, drivers would eventually realize that there is rarely any real need to stop at an unwarranted stop sign, after which they would stop expecting conflicting traffic, stop looking for conflicting traffic, and roll through the intersection at higher and higher speeds.   Efforts by the Sheriff’s Department to “force” compliance would be met with understandable outrage – enforcement can be truly effective only when applied to traffic controls that are understood and supported by the majority of drivers.

Q: HOW DO I GET A TRAFFIC SIGNAL?

A: 
Citizens can write, call, or e-mail the City Traffic Engineering Division to request the installation of a traffic signal at a particular intersection.  Traffic engineers follow certain State and Federal guidelines and criteria called “warrants” to evaluate the intersection for a signal installation.  If the intersection meets the warrants, it is then added to a list of other qualified intersections in the City.  In Calabasas, the City established a signal priority program which determines the need for signalization on City intersections.  The program provides a ranking system among the intersections that meet the signal warrant criteria, and is then approved by the City Council.  The ranking system is based upon various traffic data, such as traffic and pedestrian volumes, accident history, speeds, delays, intersection configuration, proximity to signalized intersections, schools and senior citizens residents, and relevant site-specific factors.  The signal priority program provides maximum safety to the community by allocating limited funds to install a traffic signal at the most critical or high-priority location(s).  The cost of a traffic signal is approximately $180,000 per intersection and more than $10,000 a year for maintenance and energy costs.  Sometimes traffic signals are installed as part of a private development to mitigate traffic impacts.  Their location must also meet the State guidelines and “warrants”.

Q: HOW DO I GET A LEFT-TURN SIGNAL?

A:
Left turn signals are called “protected” left-turn signals.  They can be helpful in giving drivers the right-of-way to complete left-turns free of any other traffic conflict, but when there is no opposing traffic, they can cause unnecessary delays.  The City uses State guidelines for installing left-turn signal phasing at existing and proposed intersections.  These guidelines consider traffic volume, accident history, traffic delay and other elements, such as sight visibility.  The guidelines ensure that treatments, such as left-turn signal phasing, are consistent from one intersection to the other based on traffic conditions.

Q: CAN YOU SYNCHRONIZE THE SIGNALS ALONG A PARTICULAR ARTERIAL?

A. 
Traffic signal synchronization is a method of timing groups of traffic signals along an arterial to provide smooth movement of traffic with minimal stops.  The quality of the resulting progression is a function of the spacing of the signals, the prevailing speeds, the amount of traffic coming in and out of driveways between traffic signals, the uniformity of intersection sizes, and the cycle length.

Not all City streets warrant synchronization.  Typically, a street is selected for synchronization if it carries a certain amount of traffic along the arterial during peak hours.  In most cases, synchronization is active from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during weekdays.  The individual signals operate on a “first-come-first-served” or traffic activated basis outside of these hours, or all the time if a street is not selected to be synchronized.

Q. I CANNOT SEE THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC AT A PARTICULAR INTERSECTION OR WHEN EXITING MY DRIVEWAY.  CAN YOU HELP?

A. 
Traffic Engineering staff usually conduct a field study in the area adjacent to a driveway or at a particular intersection where there is a sight visibility concern, to determine whether or not prohibition of parking adjacent to the driveway or near the intersection is recommended.  In addition to the study, staff checks accident records for the location for the past 12 month period to determine if the collision data supports the need to remove any parking spaces.

In all cases, motorists should exercise caution when leaving private property or a side street.  Motorists should move forward toward the edge line of the parking lane, thus gaining more visibility to safely exit the driveway or side street.

Q. CAN I PAINT THE CURB RED AND INSTALL MY OWN TRAFFIC SIGNS ON MY STREET?

A. 
Traffic signs and markings shall be placed on public streets only by public authorities or officials having jurisdiction, for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic as stated in the California Department of Transportation Traffic Manual (CALTRANS).  The City installs curb paint/no-stopping signs, or other traffic signs and markings after careful examination for their needs and impact on City streets.  Therefore, all signs or curb markings in the public right-of-way must be installed by the City or with the City’s approval.  If these signs are not done by the City or without City approval, they are illegal and cannot be enforced.  Furthermore, such actions by an individual present an unnecessary liability in case an accident occurs in the area where these signs or curb markings have been installed illegally, and the City cannot provide records to justify the need for these signs/markings.  The CALTRANS Traffic Manual also states that any unauthorized sign placed on the highway right-of-way by private organizations for individuals constitute a public nuisance and shall be removed.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, REQUESTS OR SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING TRAFFIC SAFETY MATTERS, PLEASE CONTACT THE TRAFFIC DIVISION AT 818-224-1600.

SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN

When walking on City streets, pedestrians should keep the following in mind:

  1. Look in all directions for cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor bikes before crossing the street.

  2. Never cross the street from between parked cars because drivers cannot see you.

  3. Always stand on the curb, not in the street, while waiting to cross.

  4. Cross only at corners where drivers can see you.

  5. Always use a crosswalk when it is available, but remember that painted lines cannot force drivers to stop.

  6. Do not take rides from strangers.

  7. Use the push button whenever possible and cross with the “Walk” signal only.

  8. When crossing the street, watch for cars that are turning left or right.

When Using Crosswalks with Adult School Crossing Guards:

  1. Obey the directions of the crossing guard.

  2. Don’t run across the street. Always walk.

  3. Be alert for traffic. Drivers sometimes fail to obey the crossing guard’s stop sign.

  4. Don’t ride bicycles or skateboards across the street. Walk with them.

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