Despite the Riverside Village Board pledging $30,000 next year for a village-wide traffic study that would identify problem areas and recommend solutions, a group of residents in Riverside’s First Division is calling for immediate action to slow down speeders.
The residents, who live in the 100 block of Fairbank Road and on Barrypoint Road, say frequent speeding by motorists put their neighborhood and, in particular, their children, in danger.
“We can’t wait for another situation where a kid gets creamed and killed,” said Wendell Jisa, a resident Fairbank Road.
Jisa and his neighbors, who appeared before members of the village board at their Nov. 6 meeting, requested a variety of solutions immediately, including speed humps and changing traffic patterns.
Jisa said the village could ease residents’ minds by installing speed humps in the 100 block of Fairbank Road and on Barrypoint Road. The village could eliminate cars speeding down the street to beat heavier traffic on Barrypoint Road, he said, by installing a “No Right Turn” sign at the stop sign leading into Riverside on the north end of the Barrypoint Road bridge.
Meanwhile, Patrick Wang, a resident of Barrypoint Road, said that despite a flashing speed limit sign on the street, cars disregard the law because there are no consequences.
“There’s no deterrent to slow down,” said Wang, who suggested Barrypoint be made one way. “I feel physically threatened when I mow my lawn [near the street].
“I deeply regret picking [a house in] that location.”
Eileen Bryant, an attorney who lives on Fairbank Road, called the speeding “a crisis” and asked the village board to approve “action as soon as possible.”
She quoted statistics gleaned from a10-day traffic survey, conducted by Riverside police in July. The department used a data-collection device it purchased through a Riverside Township grant. It is able to measure vehicle speed and traffic volume, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
However, he said, it is not the type of device used for professional traffic studies and has a margin of error. While the study showed that as many as 655 vehicles drive down the 100 block of Fairbank Road in a 24-hour period, Weitzel said he’s unsure how that compares to other streets in the village.
“Is that a lot? According to the residents it is. Is it comparable to other streets in Riverside? We don’t know, because we haven’t done it elsewhere.”
The July study showed that the average speed down the block was 22 mph and that 85 percent of the vehicles traveled no more than 28 mph. But the device recorded six vehicles traveling more than 65 mph on the block.
Extrapolating that to a full year, Bryant estimated that more than 200 vehicles per year travel more than 60 mph on Fairbank Road.
“The fact is there is a sheer volume of dangerous drivers on Fairbank and Barrypoint,” Bryant said.
But it doesn’t appear likely the village will install any speed humps or make any changes to traffic patterns until a full, independent traffic study is completed sometime next year.
“I think to put roadway obstructions in, and that’s what speed bumps are, you really need solid data because you’ll be pushing traffic to other locations,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, noting that the village will continue traffic enforcement details — Riverside police have conducted 20 targeted enforcement details on the 100 block of Fairbank Road this year, the chief said — and the area would be included in the village-wide study.
In addition, the speed limit on both Barrypoint and Fairbank roads has been lowered to 20 mph since both blocks are considered part of a school zone. And police have also come up with a complaint process where residents who witness reckless driving can forward vehicle and license plate information to police.
If the information matches a registered vehicle, Riverside send a warning letter to the owner of the vehicle, informing them of the incident. Weitzel said the department has sent about a half-dozen such letters this year.
Weitzel said he also doesn’t want to start installing speed humps because then it would be hard to deny them in other areas where residents have traffic concerns. A comprehensive traffic study, however, would provide data to support whether or not such devices are actually needed.
“I think you’d find a professional traffic study would give the board a wider range of options and perhaps a plan to use years in the future,’ said Weitzel. “I get calls all the time about cut-through traffic, but it’s anecdotal. A study would give us real, hard data of what we’re talking about.”
While residents of Fairbank and Barrypoint roads say they welcome a larger traffic study, they still think it’s urgent the village do something now.
“We’ve done lots of things, but we still have an issue,” said Fairbank Road resident Jeff Clennan. “There’s an incredible chance for something bad to happen.”