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Herb Jaffe: Bumps a much-hated solution for Summerlin speeding

Maybe you already heard the story about the little old lady who drove through a stop sign in Sun City Summerlin, and when stopped by a police officer she responded, “I don’t have to pay attention to stop signs. I live here!”

Some will swear on a stack of bibles that it’s a true story.

There are also the speeders who constantly drive more than 50 mph along the mostly 25 mph streets in Sun City.

“We know about them. We did a survey on Villa Ridge Drive and found that 15 percent of the drivers were going over 50 (mph),” said Las Vegas City traffic engineer Gena Kendall.

Then there are the bicycle speedsters who don’t live in Sun City. You’ll frequently find them coasting down the hilly streets of the senior community, often freewheeling in packs of a dozen or more and flying past stop signs as if they don’t exist, sometimes forcing motorists to jam on their brakes to avoid deadly accidents.

“And you know what?” mentioned a member of the Sun City Security Patrol who described similar scenes. “When we try to advise them that they have to obey the same rules of the road as any other vehicle, we get the middle finger in return. Fortunately, no one has gotten killed — at least not yet.”

“They have to obey the law as much as anyone else,” said Ward 4 Councilman Stavros Anthony, who retired as a captain in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department before turning his attention to the City Council. “The police can go after bicyclists just like any other speeding driver.”

Anthony and Kendall spent an hour listening to tales about traffic violators and hearing suggestions on how to curtail the speeding problem during a recent town hall meeting in Sun City. Some 100 residents came to show their disapproval of a city proposal to install speed bumps as a solution, and many voiced strong anger.

“We’re not going to install speed bumps,” Anthony exclaimed at the conclusion of the meeting. He said earlier that his office and the city’s Department of Public Works heard from numerous Sun City residents who expressed loud opposition, which was what precipitated the town hall meeting. Residents told of their annoyance over the 30 days of experimental speed bumps that had been installed on Button Willow Drive.

“We’ll try putting up signs instead on Villa Ridge and Button Willow, and we’re going to stay on top of this. We are as anxious as you are to discourage speeding,” Anthony told the audience. The signs he referred to are electronic speed read-back notifications that instantly inform drivers of their rate of speed.

“We’re looking for recommendations on how to reduce speeding in Sun City, and we’re receptive to any ideas,” said Kendall, who was asked by Anthony to address the meeting.

“We have collected data, and we found that speeding is a problem on some streets,” she said. And Kendall wasn’t just referring to little old ladies who ignore stop signs. Residents along Button Willow Drive have complained for some time about speeders, which prompted the experimental installation of speed bumps.

“But it appears that the speed bumps can be uncomfortable for many drivers, especially for people with arthritis,” Kendall said. “The bumps were not popular at all, which is why we removed them from Button Willow Drive.”

Speeders have become such a problem in Sun City that most of the community’s nine-member board of directors attended the meeting to seek ideas on addressing the issue, including a request for increased police presence.

Responding to suggestions for more police and more summonses to traffic violators, Anthony said, “I can get Metro to come in and write a bunch of tickets for speeders. But then my office would get bombed with phone calls about the tickets.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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