Flint, MI– A couple months ago, Myrtle Avenue, right along Sarvis Park, was a hotspot for speeding.
With the addition of two speed humps, Second Ward Councilwoman Ladel Lewis said she’s already seeing a big change.
“I’ve noticed a change, and a young person said, ‘Why did y’all get a speed bump there? That was my favorite strip to speed down.’ So yeah, it definitely pumped the brakes to a lot of speeding in the area, and I’m happy,” Lewis said.
Unfortunately, the speeding along that road had already taken a toll on Lewis’s family as her dog, Devin, was hit by a speeding car and had to be put down. She said there were also many other “close calls.”
“It’s too bad our family dog has to take that L, but I’m glad that it wasn’t a child,” Lewis said.
Myrtle Avenue isn’t the only location the city of Flint has begun installing speed humps.
According to Melissa Brown, the city’s former communications director, the city has chosen seven locations to install speed humps. They are:
- Eldorado Dr.
- Myrtle Ave. (in front of Sarvis Park – Wisner St.)
- Thom St. (at Western Rd)
- Cornelia St. (by Doyle-Ryder Elementary School, between Saginaw St. & University Park Dr.)
- Pengelly Rd. (by Windiate Park, near Pengelly Apartments)
- Circle Dr. (between Eldon Baker & Woodslea Dr.)
- Woodslea Dr. (between Circle Dr. & Hillcrest)
Brown said that speed humps cannot be installed on major roads as the maximum speed limit for speed humps is 25mph. Additionally, she said the locations were chosen based on traffic control and Flint Police data.
According to the B&B Roadway Security Solutions blog, there is a difference between “speed humps” and “speed bumps.” Speed humps are slightly smaller than speed bumps, but longer, the blog states.
“Speed humps … tend to work best to keep traffic between 10 – 15 mph, while speed bumps tend to work best to keep traffic between 2 -10 mph,” the blog states. “Drivers usually see speed humps in a series in residential areas, while speed bumps can provide speed hindrance in one specific area, such as a parking lot. “
Lewis said that she also submitted a plan to the mayor identifying key areas that needed speed humps, specifying the importance of putting them near parks where children play. She said several other residents in the area also submitted tips to the city about speeding issues and areas of concern.
“A lot of our residents, we got on that tip hotline, stating, ‘Hey, we need speed humps.’ So next thing you know, they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Lewis said.
The project cost $14,735 for the speed humps and signs warning of the speed humps, Brown said. That might be a small price to pay if it can cut down on speeding and traffic crashes.
According to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, there were 2,659 crashes in Flint in 2020. Speeding was a factor in 314 of the total crashes in Flint that year. Ten of the total speeding-involved crashes were fatal.
The Flint Police Department recently conducted a traffic detail in the area of N. Dort Highway and Thom Street, one of the locations for the new speed humps.
The department shared the results of the detail on Facebook on Feb. 3. After conducting 13 traffic stops, the police made six arrests, and found one speed violation, 11 “other non-hazardous action violations,” and six hazardous action violations.
Some of the other chosen locations were identified two years ago by a group of concerned citizens called the Taming Traffic Task Force.
In 2020, the group got radar signs to measure and track speeding in various locations. Here is some of the data they found:
- Eldorado Drive: 35% of traffic over the speed limit
- University Park: 46% of traffic over the speed limit
- Pengelly Road: 53% of traffic over the speed limit
Although the group is no longer in operation, those three locations are among the seven selected for speed humps.
University Park Resident Barbara Smith said she hopes speed humps will help the speeding issue on Cornelia Street, right outside of Doyle-Ryder Elementary School.
Speeding is a problem everywhere, she acknowledged, but said she worries about the children in the neighborhood.
“Kids have to cross the street to go to school,” Smith said. “And also there are other buses to other schools that use that street. So that’s another reason we’re concerned because, again, those buses are carrying children.”
A matched case-control study from 2004 found that speed humps improved safety conditions for children in Oakland, CA.
Authors of the study wrote that Oakland had historically been one of the most dangerous cities in California to be a pedestrian exhibiting “the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities among the state’s cities in 1995.”
From 1995 to 2000, authors wrote that Oakland installed 1600 speed humps on residential streets.
In examining the effectiveness of the speed humps, researchers found that “speed humps were associated with a 53% to 60% reduction in the odds of injury or death among children struck by an automobile in their neighborhood.”
Other studies have also found that speed humps can be effective in reducing speeding.
A 2001 study for the Institute of Transportation Engineers and Federal Highway Administration examined the impacts of various traffic calming measures, including the installation of speed humps in Portland, OR.
Researchers found that the speed humps brought speeding down on average by about 7mph, or about 20%. The average speeds after the humps were installed were 25.6 mph and 27.4 mph, much closer to the 25mph speed limit.
Another study in Iowa, which was also part of a national research effort looking at traffic calming, found that the percentage of vehicles that exceeded the speed limit decreased after the installation of speed humps.
Before the speed hump was installed, 68.1% of vehicles on Roosevelt Drive exceeded the posted 25mph speed limit. After the speed hump was installed, the percentage of vehicles passing the speed limit decreased to 41.4%.
Lewis said she has also noticed that the speed humps on Myrtle Avenue are making people stop for the stop sign, which she said might as well have been a “go sign” before the speed humps were installed.
“So the speed humps are slowing them, as well as many other people down, and also encouraging them to respect the stop sign,” Lewis said. “So since you’re already slowing down, you might as well stop at the stop sign. So that’s definitely a win for our neighborhood.”
Lewis said that while the speed humps are working, she would like to eventually see them embedded in the roads permanently. She said she’s seen that done in other areas, and she thinks that would help create “a culture of stopping.”
She also said she would like to see Michigan laws allow for speed cameras, so people who speed in Flint can be ticketed.
“When I lived out of state, after I was a victim of that speeding camera. It slowed me down,” Lewis said. “So I think that would be great.”
Currently, there is no state law in Michigan allowing or prohibiting the use of speed cameras to ticket people. Last year, a bill was introduced to allow for an automated speed enforcement system, but it hasn’t been approved.
Smith said she thought having radar signs that show how fast people are going might be effective in reducing speeding, but she said she would also like to see more police enforcement.
“I have even thought about myself asking the police department if they could put an officer there sometimes to give people tickets,” Smith said.
But for now, she’s hoping the speed humps work.
“I hope it will help because the speeding is bad on that street,” Smith said. “Speeding is definitely a concern, and very high on our list of safety concerns.”