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Lane Ranger

Rash of traffic calming meetings is contagious

By JAY CRIDLIN
Published August 15, 2003

The way things are going, it might be simpler for Hillsborough County to give every neighborhood association several dozen barricades and a full complement of Stop Sticks.

With the number of traffic calming meetings taking place these days, it's a wonder it hasn't happened already.

A sampling of the recent meetings:

- Residents of Paddlewheel Drive gathered Aug. 4 to discuss traffic problems between Bloomingfield and Sweetleaf drives, near the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue and John Moore Road in Bloomingdale.

- The Drakes Landing Home Owners Association met Aug. 6 to discuss problems on Oaklane Road between Lithia-Pinecrest and Miller roads, near the intersection of Guiles and Lithia-Pinecrest in Valrico.

- On Tuesday, residents of Sunnyhills Drive gathered to discuss speeders on their road between Dove Field Court and Alder Way, near the intersection of Lakewood Drive and Windhorst Road in Brandon.

And that's not all. Meetings are set for Tuesday on problems on Colonial Lake Drive between Remington and Colony Pointe drives in Riverview; and Wednesday to discuss problems along Albyar Avenue from Maloren Street to Riverview Drive in Riverview.

"Business is good, let's put it that way," says Wayne Kirby, general manager of the county's Residential Traffic Calming Program. "People are breaking the law, and we're trying to stop them."

Kirby said he tries to schedule between 75 and 85 public traffic calming meetings each year, so five meetings in the span of just over two weeks is nothing new.

It's not like the public meetings are based on irrational fears. For example, at the Aug. 4 meeting, county representatives told residents that 341 drivers were observed using Paddlewheel Drive in one 24-hour period, or three times the expected number. During an afternoon speed survey of Paddlewheel, a 25 mph road, 85 percent of the cars were found to be going at least 40 mph. One was driving 60.

Can this irascible traffic ever be calmed?

Kirby said the county neither encourages nor discourages these meetings, but it's good that residents are taking an interest in safety on their roads.

"It's 100 percent citizen-driven," Kirby said. "We let the people vote on what they'd like to see done. Speed humps seems to be a very popular choice."

Through its Neighborhood Traffic Calming program, the county has pushed to be able to tackle traffic problems on a larger scale. But so far, most of the petitions requesting traffic calming meetings have been signed only by residents of one street.

Resident Gregory Marshall said Paddlewheel Drive residents agreed at the meeting that they wanted humps. When the humps go up, drivers will simply head to the next street over, Van Reed Manor Drive.

"We actually had one of the residents from Van Reed Manor at the meeting, and he said, "You know, when you get speed humps, they're all going to be on my street,' " Marshall said. "We said, "Yep - it's your problem then.' "

You heard it here first: There will soon be a traffic calming meeting for Van Reed Manor.

Provided, that is, the busy folks at Residential Traffic Control have any room left on their calendar.

THERE IS SOMETHING about a riding lawn mower that just makes you feel powerful. Not quite as powerful as if you were riding a Harley-Davidson, but certainly more powerful than if you were sitting atop a Schwinn.

Perhaps it's being able to control a big hunk of machinery that can slice and dice anything in its path, provided it is no more than 4-inches high.

But if you have a big old bushhog-looking lawn tractor, you feel like nothing can stop you.

Almost nothing, that is.

This week's Axie recipient is a landscaper who was working beside a road in Tampa on a massive lawn tractor, mowing a grass shoulder.

Somehow, the lawn tractor struck a light pole, which fell into the road. Two cars had to swerve to avoid it, resulting in a combined $6,000 in damage.

There was also $500 in damage to the light pole, though the lawn mower man wasn't charged.

- The Lane Ranger is currently stuck in traffic. But he can be reached at cridlin@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 14, 2003, 09:52:55]

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