Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Speed of Nanaimo

Slowing Down

Victoria city council has a new proposal  for the province this week suggesting that B.C. reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 50km/h to 40km/h.

I don't think it's a good idea for Nanaimo.  Not because I believe the roads are as safe as they could be, but because I don't think it'll achieve the result intended.

In theory, reducing the speed limit is supposed to make people take their time and pay attention, giving people more time to react in our neighborhoods.

But the speed limit isn't the issue, it's enforcement of the law.

Now I'm not saying that the police aren't doing their jobs.  Far from it.  In fact, I think the police in Nanaimo do a tremendous job.  Especially when you consider the size of the city.  But I think when it comes to speed enforcement, things have become a little "wild west" around here.

Sheriffs vs. the collective Speeders of Nanaimo.

In Nanaimo, the philosophy among drivers doesn't seem to be "don't speed" as much as it is "don't get caught speeding".  And if you know the areas the police tend to be, you can get away with speeding fairly often, it seems.

For example, if you routinely do 20 or more over the speed limit on the Old Island Highway near the Fire Station, then you're crazy.  Police are always there and you will get caught eventually.  I see at least 2 cars pulled over there a week.  More in the summer.

But, if you go two blocks down in front of Terminal Park Mall, you can easily do 80 in the 50 zone.  People zoom past me all the time on that stretch because no one observes that it changes from highway to city on that block.

I rarely see someone pulled over on that stretch.

Again, I totally get that the police can't be everywhere at once.  It's a big city and some areas will be overlooked.

But I have a solution.

Decoy cars.

You know how you get people to slow down?  Make them see a police car.

You ever see how the highway looks when there's a police car in the mix?  Everyone slows down.  No one dares to pass the officer.  It's almost ridiculous to see.  It's completely opposite to how our roads usually look.

So, what I propose is to take the old Crown Victorias that would normally be sold off at police auctions and do everything you would normally do to them before selling them to the highest bidder.  Leave the lights on it but disconnect anything to make the lights and sirens actually work.

Then once a week take a few of them and just park them in highly visible stretches of problem areas.  If you got some volunteers to sit in them and make notes, you would get some great data on how it works and where it works, while making the car look like an active police vehicle.

I think it could work.

Mix up the patterns so people don't get into routines with those cars too, and then carry on as normal with regular enforcement.

I bet it would at least help with speeding tourists in the summer.  And it wouldn't cost all that much either.

But reducing the speed limit won't work.  At least not the way the government intends.

People who never get tickets and are usually good drivers will end up being the most effected, and for the most part what you'll get is people doing 20 over instead of 10.

What you want is something that will make a lot of people think about the consequences of speeding and then adjust their actions.

The fear of getting a ticket can be just as good of a deterrent as actually getting one.

What do you think? Good idea or a bad idea? Let me know in the comments below.

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