By Chip Collins, Sandy Springs City Council, District 3
Sandy Springs’ neighborhoods serve as a peaceful refuge in which to get outside and jog, walk our dogs and play with our kids. A common complaint I get in my position as City Councilman, however, concerns the senseless scourge of neighborhood speeding — people barreling down what should be safe and serene streets at 15-25 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Yes, sometimes it’s attributable to cut-through commuters, but more often the not, the offender is your neighbor down the street. On more than one occasion, our police department has responded to a complaint of chronic speeding on a particular street, only to wind up ticketing the very resident who called in the complaint!
As the comic strip character Pogo famously said, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
The first line of defense against neighborhood speeding is awareness. Most people want to abide by the law and be good neighbors; they just need some reminders.
HOAs should constantly implore their residents to be mindful of their speed in the neighborhoods. I’m not above yelling at folks gunning it down my street while I’m in my front yard throwing the ball with my kids.
You may have seen the more quiet admonitions of the solar-powered radar signs around town that flash your speed — there’s about to be more, since the city received a grant for about 40 additional signs.
When the carrot of good citizenship is not enough, the stick approach of our boys in blue (actually black in Sandy Springs) is needed. Sgt. Dan Nable of the SSPD traffic unit confirms that speeding in residential areas is definitely a public safety issue: “When speed limits are exceeded, the driver is left with insufficient time to react to an emergency circumstance and avoid a collision.”
I have found Sgt. Nable’s unit to be very responsive to chronic speeding hot spots. Thus, if you have an issue, contact Sgt. Nable by filling out an online traffic complaint form at www.sandyspringspolice.org. Just be sure and watch your speed the next day, however!
Another method of reducing speeds on residential roads is through changing the physical characteristics of a street to make it more difficult to travel at excessive speeds — known as “traffic calming.”
For the first time, the Sandy Springs budget for the next fiscal year will include a line item to fund traffic calming projects in neighborhoods where there is a verified speeding problem, a consensus among neighbors (90 percent), and a willingness by the neighborhood to share in the costs of implementation.
For a neighborhood meeting the policy requirements, the Sandy Springs public works department will study the issue and work with the residents to devise a traffic calming plan to achieve the desired result. For those of you who detest the concrete speed humps installed back in the Fulton County days (and I know you’re out there), never fear, because there are lots of other options available to the engineers, including rubber speed cushions that are less jarring to vehicles and more navigable by emergency response vehicles. Other traffic calming alternatives include roundabouts, lane narrowing, raised intersections and traffic islands.
The inclusion of funding for traffic calming in the new city budget, coupled with the police department’s willingness to quickly establish a presence in neighborhoods where speeding is a concern, should signal that your city government is committed to working with its citizens to maintain the high quality of life that makes our city such a great place to live.
In closing, all I can say is “Slow down, Sandy Springs!”
Chip Collins represents District 3 on Sandy Springs City Council. He lives in the Riverside neighborhood.