Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Speed Humps will grow like weeds
It's spring time in Santa Fe County. We are getting a little (very little moisture) and few things are growing in Santa Fe County. One thing is about to start growing, Speed Humps. The Santa Fe County Commission has approved spending $64,000 to put speed humps on County Roads 113S, CR84, and 84E as well as CR63. I don't blame the commissioners, squeeky wheels get the grease and the county commissioners were really hearing it from the residents in these areas. The Sheriff's office did all they could to increase patrols, use traffic speed trailers and signs provided by public works, and issue many citations in order to help calm the residents nerves and complaints. I am sure that right after our deputies left the area to go to the next area or to rush to a call where they were needed that residents or users of the roads sped up again. One time in Eldorado I received numerous complaints over speeding in the area. The next day we had deputies giving tickets in the area and I drove up to see how it was going. I stopped to backup one of my deputies and after we approched the car I heard the ladies name and realized she had called me complaining the day before. She was furious as she recieved her citation. The Sheriff's office, Fire Department officials and others opposed the humps over the last year citing the problems they cause emergency response in the areas which have them. Officially I oppose humps for those reasons, personally I oppose humps for other reasons.
Speed humps are supposedly designed to cause people to slow down to the speed limit, typically 25 in residential areas. In reality drivers must drive approximately 10 mph or slower in order to negotiate them. Vehicles in our gas conscious times are created smaller and lower to the ground in order to save gas with increased aerodynamics. The Sheriff's office purchased Chevy Impalas in the last three years abandoning the Ford Crown Victorias which are larger but use more gas. Like most cars the Impala has an 8.5 inch clearance under the vehicle without any weight in the vehicle. Put a 180 to 240 pound officer in and fill the trunk with police equiptment, install radios and cages to secure the prisoner in the back and the vehicle drops another 2 inches at minimum. Go over the speed hump at even the posted speed limit and you and the car are in for a jolt. You have no choice but to go much slower than the speed limit. Put a victim in an ambulance while you are trying to insert an I.V. or other medical lifesaving procedures and you must really drive painstakingly slow as you are trying to rush a seriously injured person to the hospital. What makes speed humps effective ? The fact that they reduce the amount of traffic on a street in which they have been installed. People whether they commonly speed or not will avoid roads which have them. This causes side or nearby roads to have increased traffic usually causing the addition of traffic calming devices on these roads as well. It causes congestion on nearby roads by increasing the traffic on side roads and decreasing traffic on the roads with the humps.
I live in a community where the roads are owned and maintained by the homeowners association. Shortly after I moved in two years ago Speed humps were placed abundantly by the board of the homeowners association through out the community. Many homeowners like myself who did not know they were going in were shocked. My wife owned a 1990's Firebird and no matter how slow or what angle we used to attack the humps We scraped the bottom horribly. We traded in the car for a four wheel drive pickup. After going over the 7 humps between my home and the main road for just one year we started noticing noisy shocks in the truck. Trust me, my wife who uses it the majority of the time never comes even close to speeding. Something like 90% of the residents turned in a petition to remove at least some of the humps but the board resisted for two years.
What made the board change their minds? Reductions in home values which came about because residents were having trouble selling their homes. New prospective home buyers looked at all the humps and shied away from buying. Many felt the humps signaled problems in the neighborhoods and others just did not want to transverse them every day. After the board and residents realized it was hurting sales of homes in the area humps finally started being removed at a considerable cost to homeowners through their dues and even a dues increase. So homeowners be careful what you ask for. Speed humps could end up reducing your property values or cause you to take longer to sell your home, many people would rather live in a place without them.
So why did I say in the title that humps would grow like weeds? The City started its speed hump program some years ago with a modest budget and the plan of putting speed humps and later roundabouts in a few high complaint areas only. Once some people had them others throughout the city wanted them in their neighborhood also. Thus the budget and the humps grew like weeds in the desert. Some of the public works employees have told me that despite the cites wishes to reign in the speed hump growth, screaming constituents caused City Councilors to relent and add more and more. Thus goes my prediction that the 4 roads getting humps this year will grow proportionally year by year. I compare it to Moores law of computers which states that computer processor speeds will double every 18 months. Speed humps will grow at a rate of double the amount installed the previous year until the county residents or the county budget can take no more. Maybe this will be named Greg's law of speed humps.
links related to speed hump problems
National Motorists Association
Association of British Drivers, What they don't want you to know about speed humps.