Speeding Mitigation Efforts

While campaigning for mayor, the complaint I heard most often was about speeding. After taking office I began looking for ways to slow drivers down. Most of us are familiar with the "Slow Your Roll" campaign. It has been effective on "accidental speeders" i.e. those like me who sometimes simply do not realize we are going that fast. Many folks have shared with me the signs remind them to ease off the gas pedal. "Slow Your Roll" also suggests that perhaps we Covingtonians should embrace a slower pace of life.

Speed Data Analysis 

Using a Jamar Blackcat Radar Device, we are able to measure the speed of every vehicle traveling in both directions 24 hours a day. This gives us real data on which to base decisions.

In this scenario, on 15th Ave and with a speed limit of 25 mph, an enforceable violation is 37 mph or higher. The device considers 160 enforceable violations over six days a LOW enforcement rating. I disagree. I believe we have a problem.

4 - Way Stop Signs Don't Work?

Almost weekly a resident requests a 4-way stop be installed on their street. If I had acquiesced to every request, our city would look like we have the measles. Within my first week in office an older man in Public Works told me, "You know, federal guidelines specifically state 'Do Not Use Stop Signs' to control speed. They do not work."

Our city can attest to this. If stop signs worked, we would not have a speeding problem. Those who go the speed limit typically stop at stop signs. Those who don't, don't.

So, I looked it up.

Those drivers who are chronic speeders also run stop signs … creating an entirely new hazard. Of course, one answer is enforcement. Unfortunately, we are no longer Mayberry. Now fully staffed, our PD's priority has been getting guns off our streets and the associated bad actors. In approximately the last year, PD has removed over 50 illegally possessed guns, almost 500 grams of heroin / fentanyl, over 1,500 pills and has made over 100 felony arrests. This has been our priority - and rightfully so.

Speed Bumps

Additionally upon taking office, I inquired about speed bumps. I was told bumps could not be used due to fire trucks and ambulances. I accepted that statement. Then, while visiting my grandchildren in Atlanta, I noticed they had bumps, but they were elongated bumps. Surprisingly, Atlanta also has fire trucks and ambulances. Upon investigation we learned that with a slight incline, flat top and slight decline "speed tables" could be used. We ordered, received and have begun installation of the tables. For me, this is an experimental idea. We will install four, then sit back, observe and decide do we, as a community, like them and are they effective?

Side note: At 20-25 mph, a vehicle can cross over the top rather comfortably. However, at 30 or 35 mph, one will get a real jolt.

The Psychology of Speeding

Over time I noticed a couple of things speeding complaints had in common. Most often the complaints came from streets without sidewalks, particularly if there is little to no road shoulder and especially if there was a lot of pedestrian traffic. Yes, kind of obvious.

Pictured: I have quite the collection of people walking in the street next to a perfectly good sidewalk. Interesting to me, most sidewalks were not built by the city. Residents built the sidewalks on their own street. This helps explain why some streets have walks and others don't.

Side note: The city spends between $1M and $1.5M every 10 years repairing hazardous sidewalks. It's a drop in the bucket.

 Side note #2: Mass x Velocity = Momentum. A Prius (3,000 lbs.) traveling at 33 mph will have 99,000 units of momentum. A Ford F-250 (6,700 lbs.) traveling at 33 mph will have 221,000 units of momentum. Our reptilian brain immediately tells us that a larger vehicle is more dangerous and may appear to be speeding even when it isn't. This explains why garbage trucks and Fed Ex / UPS trucks often "feel" as if they're speeding even when only traveling at 25 mph.

But, But, But … the Driver Feels Safe

Chronic speeders travel at the speed at which they feel safe … not the speed that you as a parent with a child in the yard or as a pedestrian feel safe.

The wider the street, the faster they will go. On our residential streets speeders usually use 60 to 70% of the roadway … straddling the centerline.

Resident Michael Rogers shared a YouTube video with me that I found most interesting. The video is 11 minutes long. It is at the 5 minute mark where the concept of subconscious driving is introduced.

The Wrong Way to Set Speed Limits

Please Move Back into Your Lane

Again, requests came in for 4-way stop signs. But I had another thought: What if I simply put a delineator i.e. a 36" vertical fiberglass pole strategically located slightly away from the intersection but in the middle of the street.

A driver approaching the intersection would need to move completely back into their lane to avoid hitting the pole. The driver would have to become conscious of driving. This maneuver would also require a reduction in speed.

So we have installed a few. Like the speed tables, they are experimental: Do we, as a community, like them and are they effective? 

Side note: We installed orange. I don't like the color. It looks like a construction site and, as such, is not compatible with our lovely residential neighborhoods. We have ordered some more in green. We'll see how they look.

Side note #2: A speed table costs $12,000. A permanent one will be much more expensive. A delineator costs about $100. 

Side note #3: Yes, the delineators are flexible. When hit, they bounce back up. Of course, at some point they will require replacement.

Side note #4: One person expressed to me that the delineator was annoying. I asked, "Why?" The person said, "… because it makes me slow down." … lol, SMH.

A Little History … of 200 N. New Hampshire

And One of Our First Movie Theaters

The first movie theater in Covington was the Parkview Theater located on North New Hampshire. Opened in 1914 by Sid Fuhrmann, it hosted silent movies, poetry readings and vaudeville acts from New Orleans.

Later, the same corner would become the Frederick-Planche Ford Dealership. Many of us remember it as Hebert Drugs.

Today we know that first theater as:
Del Porto Restaurant
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Rooted in History, Focused on the Future

Tammany Family Blog | by Ron Barthet