City, neighbors work to curb speeding

Volunteer program will place radar trailer on certain 25 mph streets to help educate speeders

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

Published:

 

A busy four-lane arterial in east Vancouver sometimes feels like a drag strip, with drivers taking advantage of the long stretch to press down their pedals and blast past 25 mph signs.

How to get involved

If you’d like to lend a hand with the city’s Speed Monitor Awareness Radar Trailer Volunteer Program, or the Neighborhood Traffic Safety Alliance, contact NTSA Chair Ross Montgomery at montre2ecs@aol.com or 360-892-1968. The group is also looking for someone to help create a training video. Learn more by clicking here.

Speeders, a longtime concern for neighbors in that area, either don't realize — or perhaps don't care — that McGillivray Boulevard is a residential street, lined with driveways, dog walkers and children heading to school.

Traffic Complaint Hotline

The Vancouver Police Department’s Traffic Complaint Hotline, where residents can leave a message about a traffic concern, can be reached at 360-487-7402.

"There are a number of complaints about speeders on McGillivray," said Ross Montgomery, chair of Vancouver's Neighborhood Traffic Safety Alliance.

Drivers say when speeding is acceptable, and not

15 mph over speed limit on freeway

Unacceptable: 77.8 percent.

Acceptable: 20.2 percent.

10 mph over on residential street

Unacceptable: 88.3 percent.

Acceptable: 9.6 percent.

10 mph over in an urban area

Unacceptable: 82.2 percent.

Acceptable: 15.7 percent.

10 mph over in a school zone

Unacceptable: 94.1 percent.

Acceptable:4 percent.

— Source: 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

But unfortunately, he said, it's not an issue unique to the Cascade Park area.

"I am getting calls from residents throughout the city complaining about the speeding on their streets. It's not only in the city of Vancouver, it's countywide."

The city recently joined with Montgomery's volunteer group to create a program aimed at furthering awareness about speed limits on neighborhood streets, ones such as McGillivray that, despite being posted as 25 mph, are prone to cars zipping by. The Speed Monitor Awareness Radar Trailer Volunteer Program asks trained community members to work in teams of two to pick up a city-owned radar trailer and place it at resident-suggested spots for a week at a time. The radar will display how fast vehicles are passing. City officials say it won't be used to record any data, though it does have the capability.

In a 2005 report, the city of Bellevue analyzed the effectiveness of its 20 radar signs and found that most of the spots where the speed reminders were placed saw an overall drop in vehicle speeds between 1 and 6 mph. A few locations, however, had little or no changes.

"We're not paying attention to how fast we're really going," Montgomery said. "The trailer is a reminder that the speed limit is 25, but you're going 35."

The pilot program is still taking off, but already has 17 volunteers on board, said Vancouver's Volunteer Coordinator Hailey Heath.

"They are clearly passionate about the issue and getting one more awareness and education tool out there on the streets," she said.

Soon, an online form will be up on the city's website for residents to request the radar trailer be placed in their neighborhood, with the plan to have the program running in spring. The city owns two radar trailers, but only one will be used for the program at this time. The other is operated by the Vancouver Police Department.

Speeding is fairly common, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey published in January. About 42 percent of drivers in the country said they have driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month, with 10.8 percent who do it often. And 44.5 percent said they drove more than 10 mph over the limit on a residential street in the prior 30 days, while 8.8 percent of those people do so regularly.

Montgomery said he believes the flashing reminder will go a long way.

"I am convinced that people just don't realize how fast they're traveling on residential streets," said Montgomery, who also signed up to help haul the trailer when needed. "We get into our driving habits. Hopefully, the speed trailer moving around town will help jolt people into thinking, 'oh, maybe I need to think about this a little more.'"