Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Every Day is Hump Day

You may have seen speed humps. You may have found them annoying. I used to. But I began to see speed humps from a different point of view when I moved to a residential street that some drivers seemed to think made an ideal speedway.

When our street was presented with the opportunity to get speed humps, a few like-minded neighbors joined us in canvassing the block to get the necessary votes to acquire them. It was hard work and the vote wasn't unanimous. But most of us love our speed humps because they've helped make the street quieter for us stodgy grown-ups and safer for the kids.

(They're not "speed bumps," by the way. Speed bumps are slim and high, like what you find in parking lots. Speed humps are long and low, to slow traffic on residential streets. We learned all the cool traffic pacification lingo.)

So imagine my joy when the other morning I heard John call out, "photo op!" and I ran outside to find Oscar Alvarado, Miguel Rojas and Steven Adams refreshing the paint on our beloved speed humps. It was a quick job, one-two-three.

One: they said, "Sure, you can take pictures!" and placed stencils on the street.

Two: while Mr. Alvarado held the stencil in place, Mr. Rojas sprayed the paint.

Three: while Alvarado and Rojas replaced the stencils on the truck, Mr. Adams sprinkled something on the wet paint. I figured it was something to help make the paint dry. But later, John showed me what Steven Adams had sprinkled. We found a few teeny, tiny glass beads left behind. They stick to the paint to make it glow when headlights shine on it.
We love our speed humps. Now, when I come upon them while driving in town, I know what the residents went through to get them and why. And I slow down and enjoy their quiet street.

These gentlemen were awfully nice to let me take their picture. They were efficient, too. Bonuses all around!


JT said...

Speed humps are our friends. I used to live near a street where cars exceed the limit by at least 20mph. Once the humps were installed, traffic thinned and we all rejoiced. I didn't know about the glass beads.

Sharon said...

I loved the series of pictures of the "men at work" and the explanations of what they are doing. Speed humps are pretty common around here and they are a big help.

USelaine said...

I love seeing public utility workers doing stuff in the street. Painting stripes, digging trenches, climbing up poles - they make the city itself seem like the blood is circulating, and little problems are getting fixed before they get big. Great series with explanation, P.

Hope said...

Didn't know the difference between speed bumps and speed humps. Now, I do. I'm glad these have helped slow down the traffic in your neighborhood. A good thing, especially with litte ones around.

Trish said...

Around us they have SIGNS that warn us of SPEED HUMP 15 MPH. I always laugh, I did not know there was a speed limit for uhm, well, humping!

Kewl post on the whys and hows of making the humps happen! Those glass beads are cool!

Katie said...

What fun to see these speed humps! The whole series of photos is great. I spent the day driving around with Marylene near Fontainbleau and many of the teeny villages have speed reducing objects in and on the road. My fave was tiny streets with single parking spots alternating sides of the road.

Miss Havisham said...

Please send those guys over to Oakland Ave. We need lumping. I mean, HUMPS on our raceway street where children often play and must dart around the flying cars.

My neighbors told me they gathered signatures and made a request but were not approved. I don't know why this is.

Bergson said...

a good report men at work

Vanda said...

I wonder what the punishment would be for unofficial guerrilla road humping. Assuming you get caught.

Vanda said...

PS. Every day is a humpty-dumpty day for me these days.

Ted Thompson said...

Speed humps are a good idea. I have no quarrel with them. Speed BUMPS however are a different matter as there seems to be no regulation of them, and I've encountered some that unless you juggled your brakes just right, even at a crawl, your car's frame will slam into it as you "fall" off the other side of the bump...

Laurie said...

I have a new respect for speed humps!

Christie said...

I love the sensation of flying over them a little bit. I guess I just love speed and flying a little too much. :) But I don't do it often since there are no speed bumps around here. The snowplows would tear them up in a heartbeat.

Petrea said...

"Traffic thinned and we all rejoiced." Absolutely, JT, that's been our experience. Except for the neighbors who don't like the humps. To my knowledge they haven't been rejoicing, but I think they're getting used to them.

Thanks, Sharon. Thanks, Elaine (nice bloody analogy).

The things you learn while blogging, eh Hope? Information you don't need. But they say we only use 10% of our brains, so I figure there's room for a lot of crap in there.

Trish, maybe the 15 MPH is a warning as opposed to a limit? Glass beads: Barbie necklace?

Oh, la dee dah, Katie spent the day flouncing about Fountainbleau, and we're not talking about a hotel in Miami. Please note what Katie did to top off her day in the French countryside. Did she relax with a glass of French wine? Did she visit a historic castle? No, she viewed photos of speed humps. Katie, I don't think I could be more honored. Now log off and go get yourself a glass of wine.

Miss H, our neighbors had tried, too, before we moved here. One's street has to become eligible, then a percentage of adjacent neighbors have to vote yes (on a city-generated ballot). The person we dealt with at City Hall's Dept. of Transportation was Richard Dilluvio, and I don't think he would mind me giving his name. He took our calls, answered our questions and was great. Call and ask him what the steps are and I'll bet he'll be a big help.

Thank you, Bergson. Nice to see you.

Vanda, I don't know if that's good or bad but it doesn't sound good. I hope it gets better.

Need to unload your trunk, Ted.

Me too, Laurie, me too!

I hadn't thought of that, Christie. No wonder I don't remember seeing them in Illinois.

Ms M said...

Good pictorial of how speed humps are born :) We have a number of streets with both humps and bumps to slow down reckless drivers.

GutsyWriter said...

Have you seen speed bumps in a 3rd world country? They're thick ropes running across the dirt road when you exit a village. They're about 8" tall and your care sure jumps on those suckers. We lived in Belize, and they were all over the villages.

Bernie K. said...

Havisham: Usually, municipalities have 3 first criteria for deciding if the expense of installing speed humps should go forward

1. Frequence of traffic (above X speed)
2. Length of the block(s) in question
3. Adjacence to major traffic arteries.

You have to see cars booming down a road at least 5-10 mph faster than the limit at an interval that suggests a risk. You usually need a stretch of road of at least 1200' in length to justify enough humps to make a difference. You want emergency vehicles to have viable alternatives to the road you're "humping," so the fat guy who just wrapped his Caddy around a lamppost can have his infarction on Blue Cross's dime & not the public's

Which, naturtally, makes me think of a poem, by the inestimable Karl Shapiro, RIP:


Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating
And down the dark one ruby flare
Pulsing out red light like an artery,
The ambulance at top speed floating down
Past beacons and illuminated clocks
Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,
And brakes speed, entering the crowd.
The doors leap open, emptying light;
Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted
And stowed into the little hospital.
Then the bell, breaking the hush, tolls once,
And the ambulance with its terrible cargo
Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,
As the doors, an afterthought, are closed.
We are deranged, walking among the cops
Who sweep glass and are large and composed.
One is still making notes under the light.
One with a bucket douches ponds of blood
Into the street and gutter.
One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling,
Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles.

Our throats were tight as tourniquets,
Our feet were bound with splints, but now,
Like convalescents intimate and gauche,
We speak through sickly smiles and warn
With the stubborn saw of common sense,
The grim joke and the banal resolution.
The traffic moves around with care,
But we remain, touching a wound
That opens to our richest horror.
Already old, the question, Who shall die?
Becomes unspoken, Who is innocent?
For death in war is done by hands;
Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic;
And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.
But this invites the occult mind,
Cancels our physics with a sneer,
And spatters all we knew of dénouement
Across the expedient and wicked stones.

b.c. said...

hooray for hump day! thanks for the expo on humping in the street (tee hee!)

babooshka said...

Fortunately I live in where the need for these is limted. Photo op present themselves at the unlikeliest of moments.

Petrea said...

Ms M, speed bumps on a street would keep me off it. I wonder if that's the intention.

Hi Gutsy Writer, welcome! I would LOVE to see speed bumps in a third world country, but I haven't.

Bernie, I don't know if the criteria are the same in Oregon as they are in Pasadena. The poem is fantastic, thank you.

B.C.: funny!

Babooshka: true.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on the blind side of a treacherous curve on San Gabriel Blvd., a six lane main North-South artery. I've seen dead people. On a positive note, the artist Bob Zoell has used the (dispersed reflective glass fragments in paint) to great effect.

Petrea said...

I googled Zoell. Lots of good stuff!

Bernie K. said...

I did, too. I like that kind of iconographic imagery. Reminds me of the photo you posted, a long while back, of the "sign of signs" over a Pasadena car-park's entrance.