Village residents may have noticed the first bright red cutout sign in this summer’s edition of “The Villager” newsletter, along with a notice asking that drivers keep the sign somewhere visible in their cars.
“Drive like your child lives on this street,” the sign reads.
This sign is just the first effort in the new Drive 25 Campaign, an effort created by the village’s Traffic Committee in hopes of getting drivers’ attentions back on the speedometer. Village officials set a 25 mph speed limit on residential roads about 15 years ago, but recent phone calls and complaints from residents drew attention back to the issue.
The campaign began about four months ago in earnest after village officials began noticing the speed limit was being ignored by about 10 mph over the posted 25 limit.
“We know it’s not just a village problem,” said Traffic Committee member Frank Prevratil, “but we wanted to set a precedent.”
Prevratil said oftentimes, drivers rarely notice the speedometer creeping up to 30 or 35 in residential neighborhoods, since the speed doesn’t seem all that fast. But, he said, the residents notice, and those extra five miles per hour do make a difference when a child steps out into the road.
“Does five mph really make a difference? It makes a huge difference in perception,” said Prevratil. First, a driver has to notice a ball rolling into the street, then the driver must react and the car has to break. “All of that together, that’s the amount of time it takes to stop a car.”
Speeding is not limited to outside traffic, either. Many times, it’s residents who got caught up and are late for work, said Prevratil.
Police officers do patrol the residential roads, said village Mayor Frank Leak, but a patrolman can’t be out of every street. As well, the small speed humps on some roads do little to slow today’s modern makes of cars, so village officials decided to find ways to begin the campaign and find more ways to solve the problem.
The Drive 25 Campaign is an effort between the Traffic Committee and the Village Board. Since the committee has no budget, it can only make recommendations to the board as to solutions to the problems, rather than take action.
Leak said he has been working to change the relationship between the committee and board to ensure suggestions are being followed through with. He said he hoped the Drive 25 Campaign will lead to more than signs in “The Villager” to remedy speeding down residential roads.
“We’re working on different programs for the striping on the street, but…everything costs money,” said Leak.
Since many drivers only glance at the signs on the side of the road, Leak said the hope was to stencil something to caution drivers to check their speed on the pavement.
Another possibility is getting a roadside radar that can take note of the license plate number to send warnings before a ticket, in the same vein that municipalities are putting up red light cameras.
“If they know they’re being watched, there’s going to be precautions and they’ll slow down,” said Prevratil.
A majority of the speeding comes from the location of the village, which is bordered by Central Avenue, Wolf Road and Washington Avenue Extension. Prevratil said a lot of traffic on residential streets comes from drivers wanting to avoid the busy roadways.
And with the centralized location pulling in more businesses, like a recently approved Dairy Queen and a Cumberland Farms gas station going through the village Planning Board, more traffic is being seen as well, said Leak.
Leak said he, along with official from Town of Colonie, National Grid and Department of Transportation are working as part of a pilot program to remedy another issue along Central Avenue on top of the speeding. According to Leak, the lighting on the main roadway is poor, causing more fatal pedestrian accidents within the last five years.
The program would update the lighting on Central Avenue from California Avenue, just past Our Lady of Angels Cemetery, up until the Niskayuna town line. Leak said the LED lighting would save taxpayers money and make the area safer.