Speeding cause for concern

Rachel Abbey

A car seems to whip around the corner, peeling down the quiet residential street.

“They can be hitting 50, 60 in front of my house,” said Crain Avenue resident James Baker. “It’s amazing.”

But Lt. James Cole said Kent’s officers don’t spend much time or ink writing traffic violations. In January, there were 113 speeding tickets issued in the city of Kent. As of February 20, this month’s count totaled 78.

Most of the speeding on Kent’s residential streets tends to come from one or two violators from the area, Cole said. People often know who these violators are, but feel uncomfortable approaching them. However, unless the police witness the individuals speeding, there is nothing they can do.

Baker is a member of Ward 6 council representative Beth Oswitch’s Crain Avenue Traffic Calming Committee, a group composed of citizens concerned about traffic and speeding on the street.

The Crain Avenue area is often used as a cut-through for students, Baker said, and experiences a lot of non-residence traffic.

On the other side of town, Ward 2 council representative Carrie Gavriloff is in charge of the Middlebury Road Traffic Calming Committee. Gavriloff said the two areas of town with the committees are where council hears the most complaints.

Middlebury Road has no sidewalks, but plenty of children and recreation walkers, Gavriloff said.

“If you’re going so fast, you aren’t going to have a second to react,” she said. “We’re setting ourselves up. We’re lucky. We’ve been very lucky.”

At the Crain Avenue committee’s first meeting, Baker said the group discussed possible solutions to the traffic problems they see, with the most popular “solution” being more patrols on the streets. Baker realizes, however, that the police are stretched for manpower.

Crashes are more likely to occur in places such as state routes, where speeds can reach much higher, Cole said. With limited staffing – four or five officers patrol the streets during a typical day – those areas may receive more attention.

“Speeds there are not resulting in crashes,” Cole said about residential areas. “They are resulting in people being annoyed.”

When the police receive such complaints, however, Cole said they try to send officers to the area to monitor drivers. But typically, the speeds they find are not worthy of a ticket.

Contact public affairs reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].