No need for speed

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Retired construction worker Marcus Urban stands near a sign he created to deter speeding in his neighborhood. Urban said he is concerned a child will get hit by a vehicle.

A rickety wooden sign hangs in front of Marcus Urban’s Clovis home with black, hand-painted letters warning speeders to “look (out) for kids on street.”

The 79-year-old retired construction worker said he erected the sign a couple of months ago because he worried for his grandchildren and neighborhood children who play and ride their bicycles in his area.

Urban said cars fly by his home in the 200 block of Calhoun Street at high rates of speed and don’t seem aware or concerned about their surroundings.

“I care for these kids and I’m afraid somebody’s going to get run over,” he said.

“They’re kids, they don’t know any better, but the drivers, they should.”

Urban said he has lived in the neighborhood around 60 years and raised 16 children. He has watched traffic increase steadily in recent years, and with that, he said, the speed and lack of driver attention have increased, too.

His 30 grandchildren visit frequently, riding their bikes and playing in the yard. He fears a tragic accident because of a speeding car.

Urban’s neighborhood is not the only one in Clovis concerned about speeders. Clovis police periodically receive calls from residents concerned about speeding in their neighborhoods, Capt. Patrick Whitney said.

In response, the police department makes officers aware of the areas of concern and focuses traffic enforcement there when possible, Whitney said.

Three officers are assigned to full-time traffic enforcement, and patrol officers also look for traffic violations in between calls for service, he explained.

“The bottom line with speeding is, incrementally when there is a wreck, the amount of injury goes up (very high) as the speed goes up,” Whitney said.

Accidents involving children struck by vehicles are historically low in Clovis, Whitney said, but concern still exists.

Speeding citations issued by Clovis police almost doubled in 2006 compared with prior years, municipal court records show.

This year, 1,200 speeding tickets have been issued with an additional 187 issued in school zones, court data shows.

Urban said occasionally he sees officers patrolling his street, but the speeders haven’t slowed down.

Not convinced drivers are getting the message from his sign, Urban said he might create a larger one for greater visibility and hopes neighbors and community members join him in his concern for children on bikes, playing or walking near streets.
“One person by himself can’t do much,” he said.

Speeding tickets issued by CPD in recent years:
2002: 1,810 (70 school zone)
2003: 1,663 (125 school zone)
2004: 1,771 (71 school zone)
2005: 1,332 (157 school zone)
2006: 2,369 (25 school zone)
Jan.-July 2007: 1,200 (187 school zone)
Source: Clovis Municipal Court

30 — Speed limit in residential neighborhoods inside the city unless otherwise posted