Friday, October 26, 2007

What Stops Speeding Better Than Speed Bumps?

Yesterday's Capital neatly included an article about a 'phantom speed bump' in Ward 2, a ward that just happens to be the subject of a special election next month. Apparently, an unknown resident constructed a makeshift deterrent to speeding motorists in the 'parking ward', as this blog affectionately calls it.

City Spokesman Ray Weaver remained underwhelmed:
The city generally frowns on do-it-yourself road improvements. We
recognized it wasn't, shall we say, a professional job.

Wouldn't you know, Debbie Rosen McKerrow (DRM) is the Vice President of some organization that is qualified to talk about such things, and offered:
I was thrilled when (my neighbor) called to say it had arrived. We have a
serious speeding problem. It does give us a jumping off point to talk
about it.

Citing no evidence, and based entirely on a desire for a conspiracy that would serve to further popularize these highly-read pages, I am prepared to conclude that DRM installed the speed bump herself to create a publicity opportunity.

Anyway, I am concerned about the city's speed prevention strategy:
Mr. Weaver said the city prefers not to install speed bumps, calling them "the
means of last resort," instead the city favors other traffic-calming devices to
rein in speeders.

What other traffic-calming devices are there??!! The only other permanent non-speed-bump attempts to resist velocity that I know of exist on Bay Ridge Ave. (after Rockfish/BB&T heading away from downtown), where the road itself obnoxiously and inexplicably swerves to the right, twice, as if to avoid a herd of wandering buffalo.

What else is there? The radar/visual display that merely tells you how fast you are going? First of all, isn't the county council trying to make signs like this illegal? And second of all, you can't convince me that they are more effective or cheaper than a big hump of asphalt.

On my street, there are 4 speed bumps over a .3 mile stretch. If you speed, you will mess up your car. Why is this strategy a last resort?


PAUL FOER said...

In general, highway engineers and planners tend to dislike speed bumps for traffic calming. For one thing, it causes real problems for emergency vehicles. Speeding drivers, who are of course the problem (I have to wonder why you did not pick on that as the real issue--sort of like the bar closing or the plastic bag thing), tend to continue their speeding up to them, then braking hard, and then speeding up again, so the real offenders are not stopped from their offense. While I do not necessarily agree, there are other preferred ways to calm and slow traffic that include visual obstructions (planters), allowing parking on both sides to constrict flow and speed etc.
I found that whole article odd and the quotes you referred to odd as well, because it's a real violation of the rule of law to just go out and make your own homegrown traffic "solution". After all, roads are one of the primary functions of local government, something that liberals and conservatives can probably agree upon. Where will this stop? With our own private water supply or police force?

Anonymous said...

Speed bumps are expensive, require additional signage, and create additional road noise - so sayeth City Councils across the country. They also hinder emergency vehicles and interfere with plowing.

Other options in the traffic engineers basic handbook for traffic calming include -
- wider lines (to make the road appear more narrow)
- additional signage
- traffic circles, yield signs, stop signs (all of which cause congestion, noise, accidents)
- deploying the dreaded radar sign
- increase police presence
- traffic cameras

For the ridiculous, make sure you visit St Maragarets road at its intersection with Old Mill Bottom Rd.

Brian Gill said...

Based on the above comments, it seems fair to say that even if speed bumps are the most effective speed reduction devices, there are not the ideal ones. Thanks to the commenters for the info.