Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — By Homer Nye
and Rebecca Mang
Kids Creek is a small neighborhood located west of Division and south of West Front. As such it is the access to Munson Hospital. This means there will be a higher volume of traffic than might be expected for a neighborhood our size. As a neighborhood we play an important role in the city traffic grid and its access to the hospital. So our concern does not so much involve the volume of traffic as it does the speed of the traffic.
At our request the city did a traffic study which recorded not only the number of vehicles, but also the speed of each vehicle. This was done over a one-week period. During that week 39,471 vehicles traveled on 7th street. The speed limit is 25 mph but until a car exceeds 30 mph it is not considered speeding.
Of those vehicles, 9,460 exceeded 31 mph. Of those, 121 exceeded 41 mph. On 6th street there were 15,676 vehicles, with 3,472 exceeding 31 mph; 48 exceeded 41 mph. During one week on two streets in our neighborhood 12,932 vehicles were speeding. This is unacceptable.
The planning commission and the city commission were surprised by these statistics. The question now is how the city will respond. One approach could be enforcement; but in recent years the city police department has been reduced by five officers. It is therefore understandable that the police must use the existing officers to respond to more serious crimes in our community. If we expect enforcement we must provide the police department with the officers to do the job.
A second approach is traffic calming methods, for example, horizontal speed bumps, traffic circles, mid-block diverters, etc. Many of these methods have proved successful and any street qualifying for traffic calming (20 percent of traffic exceeding 5 mph over the speed limit) is eligible for this if the neighborhood will cover 25 percent of the cost. Does this mean that only the neighborhoods which have adequate resources to cover the cost will be served?
A third approach is education. The question then becomes is there a proven effective approach?
The beauty of seeing so many young families move into Kids Creek is being overshadowed by the lack of confidence our neighbors have for the safety or our children. Likewise, there is concern for the elderly who must also cross our streets. Kids Creek neighborhood must and does accept the responsibility of providing access to Munson Hospital. We also expect the city to accept the responsibility of ensuring that the access is safe.
We are also sure we are not the only neighborhood with a speeding problem. This means we must all check our speedometers. Be kind and drive 25. Other neighborhoods should also request a traffic study for their areas. And we all should carefully study the candidates for the city commission and support the ones who will do more than talk about the safety of our city streets.
About the authors: Homer Nye and Rebecca Mang are residents of Kids Creek neighborhood. Homer is the president of the Kids Creek neighborhood association.
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