Whoops!

Pete Mazzaccaro

Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a reader who had noticed a lot of trucks speeding past his Seminole Street home. There were dozens of large construction trucks with the names of King of Prussia landscaping companies on the side roaring by his house at all times of the day.

Obviously, he was frustrated. What could he do? He had called the police, who paid him a visit, but really couldn’t offer much help. In Philadelphia, you don’t really get cops camped out in side streets looking to issue speeding tickets. In fact, Philadelphia police are not allowed by law to use radar guns to track speeders.

The caller and I talked about the obvious problem. In Philadelphia, there really is no disincentive to speeding. Any driver can travel as as fast as he is comfortable with, knowing full well that there is no chance he’ll get pulled over for a ticket.

You can contrast this with our neighbors in Springfield Township. There, you have zero chance of traveling above the speed limit without getting a ticket. I’ve passed three officers staked out for speeders on a 10-minute trip through the township more times than I can count. They’re out on Mermaid Lane, Haws Lane and Bethlehem Pike constantly. Even on Sunday mornings. You can count on it.

The caller jokingly wondered if we could perhaps outsource speed enforcement to Springfield police. A nice solution, but one that would leave the streets of Flourtown and Wyndmoor as lawless as those of Chestnut Hill.

No, I said. I don’t think there’s much that can be done.

Than, last week, I was driving down a side street in Jenkintown and was surprised to encounter a pretty large speed bump in the middle of the street. I wasn’t traveling quickly at all, but had I been going any faster, that speed bump would have fixed me and my car pretty well. By fixed, I mean snapped my axles in two.

Jenkintown has a number of speed bumps, or as they are officially called in the square-mile-sized borough, “speed humps.” After disagreement with the fire companies, who had some pretty good reasons to be concerned about anything that would slow them down on the way to a fire, the boro installed them around side roads, making shortcuts around the always-busy Route 611 not so easy to speed down.

I can say this with certainty, speed bumps on side streets would definitely prevent cars from whipping up and down Seminole Street. Perhaps Willow Grove Avenue by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy could benefit from the same. Any long stretch without stop signs where a speed bump, or hump if you prefer, could be placed would greatly reduce speed and, one would think, increase safety.

In all likelihood there are myriad reasons why speed bumps wouldn’t work. From obstruction of emergency vehicles to safety precautions I haven’t considered. But as a way to enforce the speed limits of residential streets where there are no police to help, they might be the only really good way to slow traffic down.

  • Tracy

    I am not just with the firemen on this, the police and others would be greatly affected as well. If they were in a pursuit they might have to hit the speed bumps at speeds not just damaging to the cars but also themselves. Many back injuries, neck injuries and other serious injuries can happen if we put those in their way. Ambulances too, do we want to slow them down or worse, injure people when they feel they can not slow down and have to absorb the hit for a higher pursuit. If you want to slow drivers down you issue tickets, not compromise safety in other ways… This is a “don’t just do something, stand there” moment until a better solution is thought through….

  • William

    There are plenty of ways to decrease speeding without using speed bumps.

    My favorite way is 3d speed bumps painted on the road…

  • Kim E

    I have said that as well. Could really use one at the corner of Ardleigh and Abington.

  • ml1234

    Well, you could put in speed bumps or secede fron the union of Philadelphia and join Springfield Township…seems the 2nd option would solve many more problems as well.

  • Geoff Nicoletti

    Speed bumps can be like pot holes. If you are driving at night or in the rain or some snow and you haven’t been on this street before…bang! The only exception I make to my obvious rule here of NO SPEED BUMPS is this one: children are often at this spot. Otherwise go bang your own car over a hill.

  • Josh

    Ardleigh between Highland and Gravers is such a short distance, roughly 2 blocks but somehow folks seem to get their cars up to 50 mph on it, close to doubling the speed limit. I would gladly volunteer my driveway for any police officer who would write tickets. Folks only use Ardleigh because they know they can speed on it and use it as a cut through vs using germantown ave and be forced to go the posted speed limit.

  • JMA1234

    These are undoubtedly the construction vehicles that start speeding through Chestnut Hill at 6:30 – 7:00 AM on their way to the new construction site at SCH. Most are carrying gravel and fill. I am puzzled as to why they are allowed to rip through neighborhoods at top speeds and are not required to traverse down Germantown Avenue.

  • http://www.nickeubanks.com/ Nick Eubanks

    There is a very big difference between speed bumps and speed humps.

    Speed humps are specifically designed so that emergency vehicles such as Fire, Police, and EMS do not need to slow down before they pass over them, since they are specifically designed to reduce driver speeds to roughly 15 mph, opposed to speed bumps which are designed to reduce speeds to as low as 5 mph.

    Learn more about the specific applications of speed humps vs. bumps here; http://www.trafficsafetystore.com/speed-bumps-humps