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.

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