Cherry Hills City Council Votes for Unfettered Driving Over Kids’ Safety

Christina Alderfer stands on her wide, suburban street with no sidewalks, where drivers have free reign. Photo: Zach Bishop
Christina Alderfer stands on her wide, suburban street with no sidewalks, where drivers have free reign. Photo: Zach Bishop

Zach Bishop and Christina Alderfer just want some speed bumps on their street in Cherry Hills so their two boys can play outside without worrying so much about reckless drivers. The Cherry Hill Village City Council has other priorities.

For nearly two years, the couple has run up against red tape and city officials bent on denying their request for traffic-calming — a story Bishop shared with Streetsblog in September. Last Tuesday, the City Council voted 3 to 2 against speed bumps on South Clermont Street.

Council members Mike Gallagher, Earl Hoellen, and Katy Brown — who represents the area where the family lives — voted no. Council members Al Blum and Dan Sheldon voted to build speed bumps. Council member Randy Weil was absent.

“Very frustrating process and one that reinforces the view that entrenched interest and traditional thinking about safety on our roadways trumps data and logic,” Bishop said in an email. “We will see our Council member and Mayor at the ballot box in the next election.”

More than 80 percent of the family’s neighbors signed a petition requesting the speed bumps. Bishop then fought to get the city to conduct two speed studies. About one in ten southbound drivers exceeded the 25 mph speed limit (speeding was less prevalent among northbound drivers). In the eyes of city officials, these results didn’t justify speed bumps.

Instead of treating speed control devices as a default preventive safety measure on residential streets, Cherry Hills relies an old traffic engineering standard called the 85th percentile rule, which holds that no change is necessary if 85 percent of drivers don’t exceed the speed limit by at least 5 mph.

Council members cited that rule to justify their no votes. Records of the meeting also yielded these excuses: Parents won’t want the speed bumps after their kids grow up; people who don’t want speed bumps in front of their house shouldn’t have to endure them because others do; speed humps won’t prevent texting and driving.

The goose isn’t cooked yet — the Council okayed a third speed study. This one would measure driver speeds on three days instead of just one.

Meanwhile, Bishop and Alderfer are prepared to foot the $3,300 cost of the speed bumps, if only their local government would let them.

  • JZ71

    How about just some more speed enforcement, first? Revenue positive for the city and a good way to reeducate the mostly-local residents who “speed” thru there every day!

  • TakeFive

    “We will see our Council member and Mayor at the ballot box in the next election.”

    That’s the American way.

  • mckillio

    I wouldn’t call that street “wide” by any means and there should be other ways to slow down drivers without implementing speed bumps. But if only 10% of drivers speed, that doesn’t seem like much speeding to me. Also, there’s the psychological part of putting in speed bumps, particularly for the speeders, after they get past the speed bump they may very likely accelerate quickly and speed more to make up for the time they “lost” having to slow down for the speed bump.

    • Greg Knaddison

      It may not appear wide in the photo on this story, but it’s definitely rather wide for its purpose. There are traffic calming bulb-outs on Dahlia in the 4000 South block, just 3 blocks West of this location of Clermont. Dahlia is a cut-through street connecting Quincy and Hampden with a light at Hampden and stop sign at Quincy, so there’s more need for traffic calming on Dahlia. Cherry street has speed bumps. Oxford Place has 2 speed bumps and a traffic-calming island. I don’t see how the council justified traffic calming measures on Dahlia, Cherry and Oxford but rejects them on Clermont.

      I dislike speed bumps and wonder if planters like those on Oxford/Dahlia would be as effective at improving safety without jostling passengers or being blocked by the Cherry Hills City Council.

  • red123

    This is not a story. This is two people complaining about speeding that may or may not be happening. From the picture above it looks like it wouldn’t matter if speed bumps were installed since there is so little traffic anyway. People will just speed between the bumps, unless the city is going to put them in every 200′. Speed bumps really aren’t meant to be put on residential streets anyway. Chicanes or narrowing the street via planters or bike lanes would be a better idea.

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