East Vancouver man wants motorists to drive 25

Paul Houge leads neighborhood's effort to alert drivers to 25 mph speed limit

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Paul Houge wants to make sure people know the speed limit on McGillivray Boulevard is 25 mph.

Houge, who has lived in a house directly off the busy east Vancouver arterial for 35 years, said he's seen a lot of speeders and a lot of traffic this year, potentially in connection with construction on nearby Mill Plain Boulevard. Because of that, he and a few neighbors are taking matters into their own hands by protesting speeders.

"We're just some people trying to make people aware the speed limit is 25 mph," Houge said.

Houge and neighbors will occasionally stand along the road for an hour or two holding signs reading: "Please be careful," "Slow down," and "MPH 25." They did just that on a recent Thursday afternoon.

Houge says the reaction to his protests are mixed. Some people slow down when they see the signs, but many of them will go faster when the signs aren't out. He said at least one person has responded with an unsavory hand gesture. Some folks also appear to be talking on their cell phones or texting, he said.

Houge admits that he'll usually go somewhere between 25 and 30 mph on the road, but no faster than that for safety reasons. He thinks most people go faster than that. If they're going the speed limit, they're probably lost, he said.

He's not the only one taking notice of traffic problems.

Fran Rutherford, chairwoman of the Riveridge neighborhood association that sits along McGillivray, said speeding on the road has always been an issue. She has chaired or co-chaired the neighborhood association since 1998. Since then, she's heard complaints from neighborhood residents, documented speeding and tried to get a stop sign or two installed along the road.

"It's always been on our minds," she said.

Police also recognize McGillivray as a problem area for traffic, said police spokeswoman Kim Kapp.

Police Neighbors on Watch volunteers will sometimes use speed guns and record license plate numbers, makes and models of cars that are going 15 mph faster than the posted limit in problem areas. When the data is brought back to police, they send registered owners of cars "educational" letters warning them that, if police spotted them instead of volunteers, they would probably have gotten a ticket, said Kelley Cheney, Vancouver police volunteer coordinator.

Sgt. Pat Johns, who leads the Vancouver police traffic unit, said the unit doesn't get out to areas like McGillivray as it did in the past.

"We do try to work it when we can," he said. "Unfortunately, our traffic team has been drastically cut back."

It was easier to have someone work McGillivray when the traffic unit had 15 officers, Johns said. Now that they have five total to investigate major crashes, staff special events and do side duties, there are basically two officers to do enforcement.

Johns said he last worked McGillivray on July 4 to work stop signs and bicycles. The unit is now emphasizing patrols in neighborhoods around state Highway 500 that get more traffic because of the construction near St. Johns Road.

He said if residents want to report a traffic issue, it helps to have a specific time of day the issue is common or the license plate of a specific problem vehicle.

People can call the traffic hot line to report traffic problems at 360-487-7402.

Paul Suarez: 360-735-4522; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops;paul.suarez@columbian.com.