Is it appropriate for an individual subdivision to install “speed-control humps” throughout its community at a cost to the safety and well-being and financial burden of the entire county? – Sign me, Humped Off.
Well then. There’s nothing quite like a loaded question.
So let’s get start with the most important issue “raised” here.
Namely, what is a “hump”? Or is it a “bump”?
Thankfully, the government is on top of it.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “a speed hump is an elongated mound in the roadway pavement surface extending across the travel way at a right angle to the traffic flow, typically 3 inches in height.”
The hump “produces sufficient discomfort to a motorist driving above the speed hump design speed to discourage speeding.”
Meanwhile, a speed “bump” is typically 6 inches high and limited to parking lots or commercial driveways. Bumps are designed to slow traffic down to almost a complete stop.
A speed bump is classified as a “more aggressive traffic calming option.”
Apparently, in order to create more calm, you need to be more aggressive.
Talk about putting the moron in oxymoron.
In any case, we’re talking about “humps” and not “bumps” on roads in the county’s many private subdivisions.
Apparently, raised humps have become deep chasms dividing rural neighborhoods.
On the one hand, residents are sick and tired of dangerous traffic on narrow roads.
People just want to bike, jog, walk the dog or just enjoy nature without being besieged by a constant stream of inconsiderate knuckleheads (in other words, their neighbors) blowing past at 50 mph.
Speeding is the straw that broke the camel’s back. So bring on the humps.
Several studies by the Iowa Department of Transportation show that humps achieved a 40% reduction in speed for most vehicles. Meanwhile, excessive speeders (the knuckleheads) were also deterred.
Humps reduced accidents. Moreover, kids were much less likely to be struck by cars in neighborhoods with humps.
Most importantly, the results don’t change over time as drivers become used to humps being in the way.
But there are folks who want to dump the hump.
Among their concerns: Emergency vehicles can be delayed by traffic calming devices, in some cases, 10 seconds per hump.
The protrusions cause extra wear and tear on suspensions, brakes and engines of taxpayer-funded first responders and neighbors alike.
Fuel efficiency is compromised as vehicles slow down for humps and accelerate after passing over them, causing more air pollution and traffic noise.
“It’s a case of competing safety concerns,” says Karola Hanks, fire marshal for the Durango Fire Protection District. “We’re always trying to find a balance.”
According to the La Plata County fire code, there shall be “no obstructions” to access roads unless approved by fire officials.
In general, the fire folks don’t want anything delaying a response or rescue.
At the same time, they don’t like people speeding and causing accidents that require a response or rescue.
When it comes to humps, rural neighborhoods need to choose the way forward and the path isn’t clear.
The great American philosopher Yogi Berra summed it up perfectly: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
So look on the bright side: If your subdivision installs traffic-calming features, it doesn’t have to be Wednesday to be Hump Day. Every day will be Hump Day!
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if it’s already a hump to commute from home to work and back.