Sunday, October 18, 2015

Residential Raceway Update

We've had a responsive week on our traffic problem on the residential raceway.  We've had Caddo Commission member Matthew Linn out twice, Gerry May from KTBS out several times, and we've had a radar cop for two days for a total of about five or six hours.

And yet, they speed on.

KTBS did a story on our checkered flag campaign.

The radar box that SPD attached to a utility pole is still hanging out, gathering data.  I sure wish I could see the reports it generates.

The officer sat out and ran radar Thursday afternoon for about three hours and he wrote tickets as fast as he could.  He didn't sit idle more than one or two minutes between tickets before another zoomed by.  Same on Friday: he was here about two hours on Friday. I don't think they run radar weekends or after five because he hasn't been back.  We hope he returns tomorrow -- with friends.  I know how shorthanded SPD is and we appreciate their response and hope it continues.

We've backed off the checkered flag action now that SPD is running radar.  I think most people generally don't realize how fast they are going but there are a few that speed by incredibly fast and when we wave at them or yell at them to slow down, they just go faster to prove they can.  The only negative comment we got on the KTBS piece is that we are control freaks.

I'm continuing my efforts at slowing people down in absence of the radar man. I thought about traffic shaming.  This car, for example... going well over 40.

So is this one.

And this one.

And this one.

And this one.

I could do that all day long.  All of those (and more) were taken in one hour's time this morning and they're all over 30.  But you can't tell how fast they're going in a still photo, and you really can't tell in the videos I did, either.  That's what that data box is for that SPD installed.  And that's why I sure wish I could see those reports!

In the end, I guess people are just going to continue to use the street as a raceway.  I hope that it doesn't take a tragedy to get them to slow down.  One of my neighbors puts orange traffic cones a couple of feet off his curb when his kids play outside, just to warn people to slow down.

I'm doing more research on traffic calming and various ways to get people to slow down.  The biggest factor will be getting my neighbors to stand up and fight this battle with us.  The old Squeaky Wheel rule, you know.

Meanwhile, the race is on.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Update on Residential Drag Races: Only one response from my pleas to city officials

Last week I posted an open letter (and mailed hard copies) to SPD Chief Willie Shaw, Councilman Oliver Jenkins, Caddo Commission member Matthew Linn, and Otis Jones, Jr., Director of Transportation for Caddo Parish School Board, regarding the speeding issue on my residential street.

The only person who has bothered to respond is Matthew Linn - a courtesy for which I'm very grateful.

From the others?  Crickets.  Nothing.  Not an email, not a letter, not even a phone call.

Meanwhile, the drag races along my residential street continue.

So I've started doing some research because I think if you're going to gripe about a problem then you should at least be able to offer a solution.

There is something called Traffic Calming which works quite well in cities both in the U.S. and Europe.

Some of the genius of Dutch and other European methods is not the use of signage and enforcement to slow traffic, but literally a different road design, and that includes putting s#! in the way. 

It is, in essence what my friend across the street was doing when she placed the huge green city garbage can in the middle of the road.  And truthfully, that's the only thing that has worked so far.

In addition to excessive speeds, we also have a huge volume of traffic as this street is used as a cut through to avoid traffic on two major arteries nearby.  I've been counting cars through the day - taking five-minute interval counts every half hour to get an average of about 1800 cars a day.  This is about the same number of cars that Ockley gets, just off of Kings Highway.  Ockley is wide and zoned for 35 mph, with painted center lines. There are four lanes which in practice is two wide driving lanes and a parking lane on each side.

In contrast, our street is zoned for 25 mph, is a narrow two lane blacktop with no center line and has numerous residents who park their cars in the road.  (I can't even tell you how many of these have been hit.)    So, the volume of traffic is a problem.

In addition to the 1800 cars, trucks, and SUVs that zoom through here, we also have 18-wheeler trucks come through to make deliveries to the business areas that border our once quiet neighborhood.  There is no way an 18-wheeler should be zooming down this street, yet there is no signage that says not to, so what's to stop them?  There also seems to be a large number of lawn service companies with trailers full of equipment that have no qualms about swerving around parked cars dragging their loads behind them.

Yesterday we came VERY close to seeing a collision between a UPS truck and a sky blue BMW.

So, given all this, and the lack of support from city officials, (with the exception of Mr. Linn- God bless him), perhaps my neighbors and I need to get more vocal about our problem.  Perhaps we need to appear at City Council meetings and engage the media to make ourselves heard.  Perhaps my neighbor needs to continue putting things in the road to forcibly slow the traffic down and maybe some tree limbs need to "fall" into the street.  Some natural speed bumps.

We've taken to standing on the curb with checkered flags just to let the speeders know they "won the
race" and can slow down.

(As I write this a taxi cab just flew down the street at 55 mph).

As I've been talking to people about this problem, I've learned that it's a city-wide problem.  Do they even write tickets anymore?  Why are drivers in such a hurry?  Slow down!  Life is passing you by fast enough -- at least slow down and enjoy the view.  Quit zooming down my street while texting.  Watch out for children and animals.

What to do?

To help us out, I suggest that the city post officers here at random times to run radar.  Rumble strips might help, and speed tables would help.  In some areas, roundabouts help, but I don't think that's viable for my street.

Until the city gets on board to help us, there may just be some civil disobedience going on.  Nothing harmful, mind you.  No spikes in the road or anything like that.  But maybe a big green trash can.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Open Letter to Willie Shaw, Matt Linn, Oliver Jenkins, and Otis Jones, Jr.

Chief Willie Shaw
Shreveport Police Department

Oliver Jenkins
Shreveport City Council, District C Representative

Matthew Linn
Shreveport City Commission, District 4

Otis Jones, Jr.
CPSB Director of Transportation

 RE: Traffic Concern & Speed Limit Violations in Residential Neighborhood

On behalf of myself and many of my neighbors, I find it necessary to report a serious concern regarding speed violations on our residential street. It has become a critical problem and will get even worse as the construction begins on the Youree/Kings Highway intersection.

For years people have used our residential street as a cut-through when traffic backs up on Kings. This will get much, much worse once the construction on that major intersection reaches its peak. That’s a temporary problem lasting only as long as the construction, but it will exacerbate our already very critical problem of speeding on this street.

Our neighborhood has many young children that play outside in the afternoons and that walk home from school after being dropped off by the school bus. Throughout the day, but worse at peak traffic times, the majority of people driving down our street are driving well over the speed limit. It is absolutely not uncommon to see cars driving 40 and 50 miles an hour in our 25 mph speed zone and sometimes worse than that.

Even school buses are guilty: there is one that comes through here so fast we haven’t been able to get the number to call and report him.

The problem is so bad that my neighbors have resorted to either putting garbage cans in the road to slow people down or standing on the curb yelling at people to slow down. A couple of weeks ago, one woman was trying to catch a loose dog and in order to keep cars from hitting him, she stood in the middle of the street waving her arms so cars would slow down. This is all very dangerous and I hate to think what would happen to a child who darted out into the road as kids have been known to do.

Sitting outside in the late afternoon and early evening is like watching the drag races or traffic on an interstate.

I know that SPD is seriously understaffed and that officers are needed in high crime areas, but we would certainly be grateful if this serious problem could be addressed before something disastrous happens.

I invite all of you to contact me for an invitation to sit in the swing under my magnolia tree, sip some iced tea, and watch this circus.  Plan to come in the hours right around lunch time or from about 3:30 or 4:00 to 6 or 7:00.  Friday evenings are especially wild!  But any time is  sufficient to see the show; in fact Sunday morning one gentleman slammed on his brakes, burning rubber in the road as he backed up to confront a group of us waving our arms for him to slow down!

I know that people speed all over town and there's nothing special about our case except that this construction (much needed, I might add) is making our problem even worse than usual; the level of frustration among the people that live on this street is at a breaking point which contributes to the danger.

I've sent a version of this post in a letter to all of your offices and I have also emailed it to you all.  My contact information is therein and my email is on the sidebar of this blog as well.  Feel free to come watch anytime, and see for yourself.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Take a Trip to the Eighth Annual Barksdale Oktoberfest

Barksdale Air Force Base hosted its eighth annual Oktoberfest celebration last night in support of Operation Bright Holiday which is a fundraiser to bring airmen home for Christmas.  The first year they did this, they were able to send seventeen airmen home for the holidays; last year, over ninety servicemen and women were able to spend Christmas with their families because of this event.

It's a very good cause, indeed!

The team at BAFB that stages this event works for months in preparation.  Col. Anderson is a perennial organizer of this event and is always aided by a great crew; this year Lt. Monique Roux headed things up and I know there were many others in assist.  While the event has many of the same favorite contests from year to year, there is always some new twist or event that keeps it fresh every year; the organizers learn from previous years and so each year the event is better and better.

For example, the first year there were not nearly enough beer taps - only five.  The lines were ridiculously long. The next year there were fifteen; a huge improvement.  The first year they ran out of beer within an hour -- the next year there was plenty of beer.  I learned from experience too; bring a giant beer stein from home and you don't have to stand in line nearly as often as everyone else!

We were, as always, the first to arrive; they were still setting up when we got there.

We had plenty of food, fun, beer, and music last night.

Dinner was Jaeger Schnitzel, brats, green beans with onions, cucumber dill salad, chicken, German potatoes, and giant pretzels.  For dessert, German Chocolate cake.

Our fried Jerry came with us this year.

The band loved Jerry and dubbed him "Luigi."  They even played a song for him.

The band was the very talented Alpenmusikanten who has played this event from the first year.  These guys are incredibly talented musicians and are very much in demand during Oktoberfest season.  We are very grateful that they continue to return to BAFB and support this event!

I lifted my camera to take a photo and Wolfgang shouted "Picture!" in the middle of their song and they posed.

They work the crowd and make certain everyone has a good time.

The children dominated the dance floor in the early evening and it was huge fun watching them run in circles and dance.  The band would cue them on occasion: "OK kids, everyone SCREAM!" And they did.  And then the cue: "STOP!" and they did.  Col. Anderson led them in the Chicken Dance.

We took the obligatory Oktoberfest pictures, sort of.

The contests were back. I sat out of the costume contest this year.  I'm glad I did -- a guy with a baby won.  How can you compete against that?!

There was the Shoe Slapping Contest.

There was a yodeling contest too, but I was in a beer line and missed that.

The band encourages a lot of audience participation: this is volunteer Margaret on the washboard.

She did a great job!

The Hand Jive:

There was no Yard Drinking contest this year, which made me sad.

The annual homage to beer:

We were, as always, the very last to leave.

I'm already waiting for next year!

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation