Local News

Durham Residents Debate Effectiveness of Speed Humps

Posted April 24, 2007 5:28 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2007 9:17 p.m. EDT

— Speed humps can divide streets and pit neighbor against neighbor. Studies show the traffic-calming measures do work, but one neighborhood in Durham wonders if they are worth it.

Some streets have one or two speed humps, but motorists who travel on Berini Drive have to encounter 10 on the roadway.

"I think it's a good idea, but it's too many in a short distance," said neighbor Susan Grubbs.

Many neighbors question whether the mini-mountains make a difference.

"I really don't know if it's slowed anyone down," Grubbs said.

Joe Cohn, who pushed for the speed humps, said cars would barrel down his quiet street at lightning-fast speeds. He said he knows many of his neighbors see the humps as an inconvenience, but he has no apologies.

"I know we've had complaints. People say the bumps tear up the bottoms of their cars," he said. "It's the people who tear up their cars by how they go over the bumps."

The city requires a petition with signatures from at least 75 percent of the people living in the affected area to get a speed hump. The city also require a petition to get rid of the speed humps.

Once a petition is in place, city workers conduct traffic counts and speed studies. The asphalt mounds can be between 275 and 750 feet apart, depending on the street and the situation.

"Some neighborhoods have none. We have 10 within six-tenths of a mile, so we were overly blessed," Grubbs said.

This spring, 104 more humps will be added to the city landscape. Studies have shown speed humps can add seven to nine seconds to response times for emergency vehicles. Officials with Durham's Transportation Department consult with the Fire Department every time they add a hump to a street.