Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pinckney neighborhood calls for lower speed limit a year after it was raised

July 6, 2010


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A year ago, the city bumped up the speed limit along Fourth Street, west of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, from 30 mph to 35 mph.

Crews installed new signs. Neighbors complained.

And the average speed of drivers indeed climbed — from 30.7 mph before the change to 30.8 mph after, according to city speed studies.

“By my math, changing the speed limit for this half-mile section of road has saved eight seconds per trip,” said Steve Braswell, president of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association. “Those eight seconds are not worth the additional concerns.”

Yet despite the neighborhood’s efforts, the 35 mph limit stands.

Last month, city commissioners rejected the neighbors’ request for a reduced speed limit, relying on the data collected by city sensors and analyzed by the city’s traffic engineer.

The stretch of road hasn’t seen an increase in accidents or any other traffic-related problems since the speed limit was changed.

“I don’t think we’ve created a problem — a problem statistically,” Mayor Mike Amyx said in June. “If statistics do change — and, heaven help us, I hope they don’t — but if there are changes, then we can look at something else.”

Bob Bechtel, a hospital volunteer, made the original request to increase the speed limit from 30 mph to 35 mph. His reasoning: similar streets elsewhere, particularly Monterey Way as it runs along Dad Perry Park, have 35 mph limits, so why not Fourth?

Statistical approach

David Woosley, the city’s traffic engineer, analyzed the request much like he does with all others: by consulting maps, reviewing city codes, compiling information about other speed limits and conducting formal traffic counts and speed studies in the area.

He recommended that the limit indeed should be raised to 35 mph from 30 mph, from McDonald Drive to Maine Street. Traffic Safety commissioners agreed.

City commissioners concurred, but only from McDonald to Michigan Street. That way the new speed limit would stop at LMH, and avoid reaching deeper into the neighborhood, an area where on-street parking is allowed.

Months later, Bechtel understands how nearby residents might be concerned about the increased speed limit. He, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the limit on Monterey Way lowered to 30 mph, and actually had hoped that his initial request would have led to that conclusion.

“In my mind, there are a lot of roads I’d like to see reduced speed limits on,” said Bechtel, who lives south of Dad Perry Park. “But that wouldn’t be popular.”

Looking ahead

Braswell, who has lived a half block south of Fourth Street for 26 years, understands the inherent conflicts between traffic and the residents. Drivers want to get to the destinations quickly, while neighbors expect to be able to enjoy their homes safely.

So far, Braswell concedes, the data show that the higher speed limit along Fourth hasn’t made much difference. The average speed remains relatively unchanged. The change hasn’t led to any accidents.

But worries about pedestrian safety remain, he said, and that’s why residents will continue to monitor the situation.

“Our whole thing is, we want to encourage people to drive slower through residential areas,” Braswell said. “We want people to drive a little slower, not a little faster.”

And for now, drivers are moving a little faster: on average, 0.1 mph faster.


John Hamm 7 years, 7 months ago

I believe to recall the state, KDOT, looks at drivers speed over a stretch of roadway as the safe limit - figuring the drivers are driving the speed they feel "comfortable" with for any stretch. If the actual speed limit here hasn't increased kinda says to me 30 is the correct speed no matter what the number crunching says......

Darrell Lea 7 years, 7 months ago

I live on the stretch of Fourth St. referenced in the article. The problem is not so much a 35 mph speed limit as much as it is those who choose to break the posted limit on a regular basis. Anytime the LPD chooses to run a radar trap at Fourth and Wisconsin it's pretty much harvest time.

I believe more radar enforcement on a regular basis would be good for the neighborhood.

Kontum1972 7 years, 7 months ago

u want to see the dragstrip....come up on kasold...the city wanted to take that STOP sign out one block from the 6th street intersection going south (a human being was killed there) those bozos have no concept.....on traffic monitoring....then u arrive up to 11th & Kasold (this is where the real fun begins)

4 way STOP signs..LoL....people in the problem honk your horn at them so they run across the street....

u can see the lips working and the beating on the steering season....lady with the dayglo bandolier and a "BIG RED STOP sign" LoL....! vehicles enter the intersection while she is bringing kids across....esp when KU is in full session....only when someone is killed will anything be takes one or mb 2 or mb 3 human beings bring any messed up is that thought process ....?

We are expendable to the city of lawrence....and their so called traffic experts they dont get it.

a blind person would do a better job running the traffic dept.

WHY 7 years, 7 months ago

Look Right. Look Left Walk to other side. Using these 3 rules you can cross a residential street, commercial parking lot, or highway.

WHY 7 years, 7 months ago

We offer lessons right here every day. Just keep reading and you will pick it up. The test will be essay and so far you have earned a B-.

Kendall Simmons 7 years, 7 months ago

"Look Right. Look Left Walk to other side. Using these 3 rules you can cross a residential street, commercial parking lot, or highway."

Teach those 3 rules to kids, you can pretty much guarantee their being hit by a car. Thanks a lot. The rest of us want our kids to be cautious when crossing a street.

How about using the rules kids have been taught for years?

Look left Look right Look left again Then, if it's clear, cross the street...while still checking in both directions.

You may think you can eliminate that first "look left"...but the purpose is to get you to stop, look and think before crossing. People who look right first and see it to be clear have a bad tendency to look left and step off the curb at the same time...not a good plan.

Also, the left-right-left concept gets you into swiveling your head back and forth. I can't count how many times I've seen someone not swivel to check traffic in both directions and step out in front of moving vehicles.

WHY 7 years, 7 months ago

That is not fair. Your example shows someone failing to follow my 3 simple steps. If you are only going to do 2 out of 3 then I can't promise anything. But if you use all three in the posted order you will be fine. And if you fail after following all three steps it is quite possible you would have failed at most things in life anyway so the early exit will not be too disappointing.

whatadrag 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic, but in no way are you remotely humorous.

whatadrag 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic, but in no way are you remotely humorous.

Kimberly Grosse 7 years, 7 months ago

I am a resident in this area being discussed. I regularly walk and drive down 4th street thus I believe my opinion covers both points of view in this situation of speed on 4th street. I think 35 is a reasonable speed. I see no reason that it should be lowered. Pedestrians are offered large convenient sidewalks on both sides of this street. If they were to cross the street they should be using cross-walks. This street is also very well lit at night and the safety of pedestrians should not be a concern. It would be unfortunate to see this revert back to the speed of 30 mph just because some people don't like change.

Kim Murphree 7 years, 7 months ago

Of course, this problem would never occur on the WEST side of Lawrence where, instead, neighborhoods are protected by lovely roundabouts and traffic slowing devices. Not that I would want that for 4th Street--but really, is it so hard to see the disparity? There's even a roundabout at the end of Clinton Parkway...a heavily travelled road...the squirrels out there get more consideration than the residents of the older neighborhood.

puddleglum 7 years, 7 months ago

that'sbecause we are the pretty people with the money. but they are not traffic slowing devices, rather, they are known as traffic 'calming' devices. Everytime I pull a trailer through my neighborhood I run into these calming devices-which realy do calm me as I drive over the curbs and make all kinds of noise for other westies to enjoy. I feel so calm. Then i look in the mirror and realize once again that I am beautiful, and most people around here are overweight and ugly. So I must spread joy to the woes of lawrence.

fosso 7 years, 7 months ago

Awesome! Thank you for that. Needed a good laugh.

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