The City of Fremont is taking comprehensive steps to reduce traffic speeds in an effort to keep the city safe from both the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and from traffic crashes. With the Shelter in Place Order issued by the Alameda County Public Health Department in effect, more people are walking and bicycling in their neighborhoods to get exercise and travel to essential services nearby. With less vehicular traffic on Fremont roadways, the City is concerned motorists may start to speed on streets, endangering those out for a local stroll or bike ride.
“We’re hearing stories from around the country that while traffic volumes are less than half of what they used to be, traffic speeding has more than doubled,” said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei. “While Fremont is not seeing a high number of complaints in our city, we’re taking a proactive stance to increase pedestrian safety while also doing our part to simultaneously beat COVID-19. I want to thank you for your anticipated cooperation as we navigate the effects of this public health crisis.”
20 Mile Per Hour Speed Advisory for Neighborhood Streets
Neighborhood speed limits for residential streets are 25 mph throughout Fremont as established by state law. During these unprecedented times, Fremont is asking community members to reduce their speed to 20 mph within neighborhoods and to be extra alert for people walking and biking. With social/physical distancing in place to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, some people are stepping into the streets to pass one another along sidewalks.
“Speed limits are set for typical conditions,” said Fremont Police Chief Kimberly Petersen. “Yet, there is nothing typical about COVID-19 and we all need to slow down somewhat and adapt our lifestyles to the times. The safety of our community is our highest priority, and being extra cautious as a driver could save a life.” The City is requesting the community to voluntarily comply with driving 20 mph or less in neighborhoods. The Fremont Police Department will not be enforcing the advisory speed limit.
To help communicate the advisory 20 mph neighborhood speed limit, the City’s Public Works Department is partnering with the Fremont Mobility Commission and Bike Fremont to launch the “Drive Slowly, Be Healthy” campaign. Yard signs will be produced and distributed to interested community members to communicate messages such as “20 is Plenty” and “Look Out for Each Other.” To request a yard sign(s) please email or for more information call 510-494-4745.
Fremont’s Public Works Director Hans Larsen explained that the “Drive Slowly, Be Healthy” program name is derived from the Don’t Worry, Be Happy song by Bobby McFerrin. “With so many people staying at home these days,” said Larsen, “we hope this will be a fun outlet for creative expression and serve as an important community service message.” The City plans to produce a video and post it to its website and social media channels.
Reduced Speed Limits on Major Streets
As part of Fremont’s ongoing implementation of its Vision Zero traffic safety program, efforts were already underway to slow traffic on the City’s major streets, where most of the severe injury and traffic fatalities occur. On Tuesday, April 14,, 2020, at its regularly scheduled City Council meeting held virtually, the Fremont City Council approved an ordinance to lower the speed limit by 5 mph along 38 street segments, including portions of Ardenwood Boulevard, Blacow Road, Driscoll Road, Fremont Boulevard, Grimmer Boulevard, Mowry Avenue, Niles Boulevard, Paseo Padre Parkway, Peralta Boulevard, Stevenson Boulevard, Warren Avenue, and Washington Boulevard. The project will involve the changing of 165 speed limits signs with the work being done by the City’s Street Maintenance crews during April and May. An initial City Council report on the topic from March 3, 2020, has information about the specific locations planned for a lower speed limit. View the staff report.
Radar Speed Feedback Signs with Real-Time Data Collection
Over the next two months, Fremont is also installing 30 new radar speed feedback signs at locations throughout the city, increasing the total number of these signs from 15 to 45. The signs provide feedback information to drivers of their actual speed and informs them to “slow down” if their speed exceeds the posted speed limit. The sign equipment captures speed data information that is transmitted in real-time to the City’s Transportation Engineering staff and is used to advise the Fremont Police Department of speeding “hot spots” for traffic enforcement.
“This new traffic safety technology is a key tool to help Fremont meet its vision for zero traffic fatalities. As we have seen from our analysis of crash reports, unsafe speeds are a leading cause of major traffic crashes,” said Assistant City Engineer Noe Veloso.
For more information and updates on the City of Fremont’s traffic safety programs, visit the Fremont Vision Zero webpage.
For more information and updates on how the City of Fremont is monitoring the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), visit our Coronavirus webpage.. General updates will be made to the City’s social media accounts on Facebook, Nextdoor, Nixle, and Twitter; follow our channels.