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    Speed humps draw harrumphs

    Bardmoor Place residents give the new traffic-calming devices high marks, but the commuters who have to drive over them do not.

    By MONIQUE FIELDS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 19, 2000


    Neighbors along one street in unincorporated Pinellas County are at odds over a raised crosswalk, three stop signs and five speed humps. The additions to Bardmoor Place, a milelong road near the intersection of Starkey and Bryan Dairy roads in the Bardmoor area, came after years of speeding. Residents circulated a petition and won the County Commission's approval for relief.

    But some neighbors, many of whom have to travel over all five speed humps daily, didn't take their neighbors' support for the humps as neighborly. They fired off their own petition opposing the humps.

    The County Commission, noting the existence of an alternate route for unhappy motorists, sided with those on Bardmoor Place. Five of the six humps are in place, with the sixth scheduled for construction on Monday.

    As people enter the Bardmoor neighborhood, a sign warns them that the area is controlled by speed humps and that the speed limit is 15 mph.

    Most residents who live on Bardmoor Place welcome the speed humps. They have helped transform what was once a speedway into a quiet street. They have delivered peace to residents who once feared stepping into the road to check their mail.

    "I love it," said Marion McCurdy, a resident on Bardmoor Place for 16 years. "Previously, I could not even go around to get my mail."

    "People are definitely slowing down," said Jodi Weinstock, who has lived on Bardmoor Place for seven years. "We're very pleased that the vote went through."

    Neighbors who live on Cumberland Road, which intersects Bardmoor Place, tell a different story. They contend the humps are hard on them and their cars.

    "If I continue taking those bumps at 15 mph, I'll be in traction," said James Sclater, an attorney who drives a 1999 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with an "unbelievable" suspension. He recently drove his Cadillac over a hump and his front end ate asphalt, he said.

    A healthy back should be able to absorb a little jostling, but greater exposure to the humps could cause problems, said Scott Bautch, president of the American Chiropractic Association's Council on Occupational Health.

    Ken Brown, a customer service manager at Dimmitt Cadillac/Land Rover in Clearwater, said he doesn't think the humps can seriously damage a car, but they could "alter the alignment."

    Those concerns aside, residents say the humps are simply inconvenient and annoying.

    "It causes congestion," said Joshua Newman, an Elisabeth Lane resident. "We think there are better ways to address the issue."

    The matter has escalated to the point that some motorists lean on their horns as they bop over the humps.

    "It's kind of upsetting," McCurdy said. "It's just a way of getting back at us."

    Speeding on Bardmoor Place goes at least as far back as October 1984, when 30 mph signs were installed there to address speeding concerns. Bardmoor Place residents have been lobbying for the speed humps for about two years. Seventy-six percent of the residents signed a petition to make their point.

    When the first speed hump went in this summer, Cumberland Road residents countered with their own petition. They were angry they were not asked for their opinion on the matter. They also offered to compromise: Instead of five speed humps and a crosswalk, they proposed two speed humps.

    Their neighborhood also got a few people on Bardmoor Place to rescind their original vote supporting the speed humps.

    They are "punishing all of the people instead of catching the few people who are speeding," said Janet Vasquez, a Cumberland Road resident who circulated the petition against the speed humps.

    But all agree the humps are doing what they are supposed to do: slow down traffic.

    "You physically change the driver's behavior by making changes to the road and force them to go slower," said Pete Turgeon, a county traffic operations manager.

    Speed humps are about 12 feet long and about 31/2 inches high. They are not to be confused with speed bumps commonly found at shopping centers and apartment complexes. A speed hump gives a "much softer sensation," Turgeon said.

    They are a part of a traffic movement of sorts. It's called traffic calming, and it began in Europe in the 1970s and later spread to Australia and Canada before taking hold in United States in the 1990s, Turgeon said. Hundreds of neighborhoods in Florida now have them, he said.

    In Bardmoor, they have flared tempers as well as calmed traffic.

    The horns begin their symphony as early as 6:30 a.m. on Bardmoor Place.

    "I still think they are a good idea," McCurdy said. "They have slowed things down considerably."

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