Dependable Erection

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Latest from "Angry Neighbors"

Got this from the folks behind the Angry Neighbors brouhaha this morning. Hope to have a response from DPD and/or the city sometime soon.
Angry Neighbors With Paintball Guns are amazed and gratified at the reaction to the first step of our citizens' campaign to reduce speeding on neighborhood streets in the city of Durham. We posted three small signs in two locations in one neighborhood. We received top story coverage on local television news, more than half a dozen requests for interviews from local media outlets, and generated hundreds of comments on blogs, media websites, and Facebook. We received numerous requests from individuals who wish to receive their own copies of our sign. We inspired the creation of a Facebook group. We clearly touched a nerve in the city of Durham.

The Durham Police Department has issued an eight paragraph statement in response to our signs. We have the utmost respect for the officers of the Durham Police Department. They put their lives on the line for us every day.

Durham PD's statement includes a series of statistics relating the number of traffic tickets written in July 2009 in a 3 block area near the locations where our signs were installed. They state that 46 hours of police activity resulted in 64 citations being written.

We have two responses to that.

First, the problem of speeding in our neighborhoods is not confined to one area in Durham. It is a citywide problem. The city must adopt a unified approach to the problem. It is unfair to the citizens of Durham to approach the problem in a piecemeal fashion. It is unfair to the overwhelming majority of law abiding citizens in Durham to wait until problems become so serious on any one block that neighbors feel their basic safety is threatened. The culture of people driving as fast as they please through neighborhood streets without any regard for the safety of the neighbors who live and play there must change. Part of that change must come from an increased commitment from the leadership of the law enforcement community.

Second, if the police wrote 64 tickets in 46 hours of monitoring one small area over a one month period, how many could they write with 200 hours of monitoring the entire city? Traffic studies in many neighborhoods consistently place the 80th percentile of traffic speeds 10, 12, or even 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. In some cases, the response of the city of Durham has been to propose raising the posted speed limit!

Many of us, as individuals, have tried to work to resolve this problem. Here are two immediate steps the city of Durham can take to help.

One, restore the citizen participation PACE Car program. We are discouraged to read that the city has neither the time nor the money to continue this very successful program. Over 1500 citizens signed up to participate in the 18 months the program was operational. Bring it back. Tell us how much money you need. We'll raise it.

Two, get serious with city employees who violate speed limits and other traffic laws. Set an example by cleaning up your own house. When we see you driving 45 mph or 50 mph in a 35 mph zone, we realize that you don't care about our city and our neighbors. Join us, don't fight us.

Stay tuned for further developments.

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  • It would be nice if they had a better design for those pace car magnets. They are ugly--should be an attractive design with a web address to find out what it is and to attract other drivers to sign up.

    This problem is not limited to Durham. CHPD could fund themselves for a year if they ticketed everyone speeding through the SCHOOL ZONE on hwy54 at Glenwood.

    "paint ball" was clearly a success at marketing--maybe those folks should turn their talents to the Pace Car Program.

    By Blogger baked, at 9:33 AM  

  • I agree that the Pace Car magnets need a better design, or more publicity should they be re-introduced. I don't think many people understand what they are.

    By Blogger SteveG, at 11:12 AM  

  • According to the Federal Highway Administration:

    "Obtaining long-term commitments from key players to make a community safer for walking requires that pedestrian safety be a priority within the transportation planning and decision-making system."

    From what I've seen, the City made some efforts in this direction (including the unfortunately abandoned Pace Car program), but NCDOT clearly does not consider pedestrian safety or access a high priority.

    The above website also has a list of a number of national organizations involved in pedestrian and community safety:

    Agree with baked that this is not strictly a Durham issue; it's a national issue. And until there is nationwide awareness of habitual speeding as a problem, not a right, individual communities fighting the problem are doomed to failure. There are simply too many people who WANT to speed, and will resist any efforts to interfere with that behavior

    Barry has done a lot of research about how street design affects driver behavior. I'd venture that vehicle design is also an overlooked factor. Why do we drive cars with speed gauges that go up to 120mph? Cars such as the new Tata Nano (, with a max speed of 65mph, would go more to change driving behavior than any signs, magnets or even tickets.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:14 AM  

  • If they reinstate the Pace Car program, the DATA buses have to wear the magnets, too.

    By Blogger toastie, at 6:17 PM  

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