Briefing Room: Briefing Room: speed limit markings and traffic safety

By the way, it’s illegal to ride a bike on the sand

I noticed that on some streets the speed limit is painted directly on the street, but most other signs are on the side of the road. Why is one done vs another? Is one more effective than the other? I’m just curious as I don’t see the speed limit on the street everywhere, but I do in some places. That’s it for now – and thank you for your service.


Hi Karen,

Thanks for your question and kind words.  I reached out to Acting Public Works Director/Traffic Engineer Iris Lee to help answer your question.  In short, speed limit markings (the numbers painted on the street) are generally used to supplement speed limit signs.  We do this in areas where we want to direct motorists to pay extra attention to speed limits for certain stretches of roadway.

So now you might wonder how we determine how speed limits are set.  The City hires a contracting firm that specializes in traffic engineering.  In order to determine the speed limit for each roadway, the engineers conduct a survey.  Read below for an excerpt from their official report:

“The study involved three major categories of data collection and analysis: (1) geometric and characteristic street surveillance; (2) spot speed survey; and (3) accident rate analysis. The streets were surveyed by field observation to determine the existing roadway characteristics, condition and placement of signs and markings, adjacent land uses, pedestrian and bicycle activity, and to identify roadway characteristics that are not readily apparent to vehicle drivers. Spot speed surveys, utilizing a calibrated radar gun, were conducted at 26 locations to determine existing vehicular travel speeds. A minimum of 100 observations (when possible) were recorded, 50 for each direction of travel. This data was used to calculate statistical information such as the 85th percentile speed, 10 mile per hour pace speed, percent of vehicles within the 10 mile per hour pace, median speed and other pertinent data for analysis.”

Honestly, a lot of this stuff is way over my head.  That’s why we have specially trained traffic engineers to handle this sort of thing.  Once they prepare their report, it is reviewed by Public Works and then approved by the City Council.  To read more about it, please visit and click on the TRAFFIC SURVEY 2020 link on the left.  While you are there, check out the other great works that our Public Works Department does for this community.

Hello Lieutenant,

Is it allowed to ride a bike on the sand?  The purpose would be to get my little ones and gear to and from a site near the water.  It is always a struggle, especially with the distance from parking in the parking lot.

Thank You,


Hi Daniel,

I appreciate your great question.  I can image how difficult it is with multiple kids getting them to and from the car and beach.  I reached out to Marine Safety Lieutenant Chris Pierce for help with this question.

It is illegal to ride a bike on the sand.

Specifically, Seal Beach Municipal Code §9.05.090(b) states:

“No person shall ride or drive any horse or other animal, any bicycle, motorcycle, automobile or other vehicle upon the city beach or city pier unless written authorization has been obtained from the city manager. This prohibition does not apply to city employees and agents engaged in the discharge of official duties. The city manager may authorize use of vehicles for the hauling of freight and other materials for persons occupying places of business on the city pier, or for the repair or improvement of the same. (Ord. 1515)”

Keep your questions coming Seal Beach!  Email us at today!