They Put a New Highway Entrance on My Street
Since ejecting myself from the Ohio City Crime Watch page on Facebook, my life has become much calmer, simpler, more enjoyable. However, I do miss the occasional oddball story that’s worth knowing a little bit about, such as the debate over the speed limit on Franklin Ave. and the “vigilante” who took it upon himself to dress up as a city worker and change all the speed limit signs from “35 MPH” to “25 MPH.” I’ve been living in either Lakewood or Cleveland for the last 9 years and have been using the stretch of Franklin between West 85th and West 25th in varying degrees of regularity, either on foot, my bike, or in my car. I lived on West 52nd for a time, just off of Franklin. I had a number of thoughts about the street and its speed limit over the years, that amount to something like this:
-Franklin has sharrows which implies it is bike friendly
-Franklin’s speed limit is 35 mph and it’s a fairly narrow road which naturally makes it kind of bike un-friendly
-Detroit (including before the “bike lane”) is a much wider, safer and slower path for people riding bikes and gets you to the same places just as quickly
-Franklin’s speed limit is 35 mph so it’s awesome to get places quickly if you’re driving
-Franklin’s traffic signal patterns are maddening
-Many people drive well under the posted speed limit on Franklin
-A few people drive the speed limit
-A very few drive a bit over the speed limit
-The narrowness of the street and limited visibility due to trees and tight side streets make it a street that people naturally will drive a bit slower on even if the speed limit is higher
-It’s weird that a mostly residential street has a speed limit of 35 mph
When the dude who changed the speed limit signs did so, he created the illusion that the change was happening legally, which made residents of Franklin REJOICE! For some reason it also caused the State Police to give people speeding tickets for driving over 25 (?????), and to my knowledge, today all speed limit signs have been removed from Franklin entirely. Lots of people think this guy is a hero. I think he’s a fed up resident who didn’t think through his plan of skirting the normal channels to get something like this changed, and now faces up to a fifth degree felony (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.17) for tampering with (and possibly damaging) a traffic control device. It was a cute stunt that raised awareness of the issue but still hasn’t produced the desired outcome.
One of the big questions I have is, why would anyone buy a house on a street that has a high speed limit if they’re uncomfortable living on a street with a high speed limit? Part of me struggles to feel empathetic, but I can imagine someone making a sensible argument with regards to a long-term goal of getting the speed limit changed. The thing is, I’m living a similar situation now, but the difference is that it’s in reverse: I moved to a street that was secluded, quiet, 25 mph speed limit, non-commuter route. Fast forward to today, a new highway entrance has been carved out of my street so we’ve gone from maybe a handful of cars throughout the day (mostly residents, who respect the speed limit), to hundreds of cars practicing for their NASCAR debut as they go careening down our street to the highway. I’m furious. I hate when people speed on my street. I want speed bumps, stop signs, and cops everywhere giving everyone tickets. What’s the best way to make that happen? My guess is a slow, drawn out struggle with our block club and the city, lots of signatures and begging and photos and studies and maybe even a few instances of a resident being attacked by a driver for yelling at them to slow down (this already happened). Me putting on a hard hat and installing a STOP sign would be a funky way of grabbing attention but I’m not sure that it’s the safest or most effective way. Or is it?
Erika Jaenke is the owner of Canopy Collective in Ohio City. Although she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Saxophone, she has largely worked in counseling and small business management.