Most motorists speed on Midland
The average motorist on the residential part of Midland Avenue travels 5 to 8 mph over the speed limit, decelerating slightly to go around planters installed last year to help slow cars down.That’s the finding of a study conducted by the city of Glenwood Springs, using devices that are placed on roads and not only count vehicles but determine how fast they are going.The city acquired some of the devices earlier this year, and has begun using them in traffic hot spots. Midland has long fallen in that category. It is an alternate route to Grand Avenue for traffic passing through Glenwood, while at the same time being a residential street.The speed limit along the residential part of Midland is 25 mph, and trucks also are barred along that stretch.Steve Vanderleest, assistant city engineer, said the study found that 80 to 90 percent of motorists speed there.The average speed on various stretches of Midland where planters were placed in the middle of the road last year varies from 30 to 33 mph. The city placed sensors next to and between planters and found that traffic generally slowed down by 1 or 2 mph at each planter.Vanderleest said the data on Midland speeds and the effectiveness of planters “is open to interpretation.”
“Depending on your viewpoint I guess they’re working or the speed is high throughout Midland Avenue,” he said.City Council member Chris McGovern believes the results show the use of planters is helping.”The indications certainly look like it’s slowing the traffic down,” she said.But police chief Terry Wilson thinks the study only backs up his feeling that the planters make little difference in terms of speed, and only marginally reduce speeds where the planters are located.
The planters were installed last fall, and almost immediately two of them were struck by vehicles, leading to criticism of their use. But Wilson believes the planters had been involved in no more accidents until this weekend.Mark Hoffman, 41, of Glenwood Springs, struck a planter around 7 p.m. Saturday with the driver’s side of his vehicle while traveling north on the 1500 block of Midland. Hoffman, whose airbag deployed, declined medical treatment and the accident resulted in no significant damage to the planter or vehicle. He was charged with driving under the influence, DUI per se and careless driving.Last year’s accidents involved one case in which a motorist struck a planter while she reached for something and was distracted, and another in which a truck exceeding Midland’s weight limit demolished a planter.Wilson said that while planters do little to affect speed, it’s harder to measure whether they have value by causing motorists to pay closer attention as they drive. He said he’s not opposed to the planters being there.McGovern believes the planters encourage slower driving by motorists on a street that they otherwise might think is designed for faster speeds.”We’re gaining their better behavior by using the planters,” she said.
Vanderleest said a rule of thumb from an engineering standpoint is to set a road’s speed limit based on what speed 85 percent of motorists drive at or below. While that might argue on behalf of a 35-mph speed limit on Midland, city officials have kept it at 25 mph because of its residential nature and the numerous driveways that enter Midland.”That’s what we consider a safe and prudent and reasonable speed on that street,” Wilson said.The speed sensors found that about 15 percent of Midland motorists drive at least 10 mph faster than the speed limit – in some cases traveling at more than 50 mph, or even 60 mph.The sensors also found that about 7,000 vehicles per day travel on Midland, with about 60 percent of them headed south. Vanderleest said the city will place the sensors on Midland again after the start of the school year to take school-related traffic into account.The city also used the devices on Blake Avenue before the installation of bike lanes there this summer, and found that motorists drove near the 25-mph speed limit downtown, and were more inclined to go faster farther south. City officials will use the devices again to see if the bike lanes have reduced speeding on Blake.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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