Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please Stop Speeding on Dunwoody Residential Streets

I get lots of email requesting city services and 99% of them I forward directly to the respective Department head for review & consideration while copying the City Manager so that he is aware of needs & pulse of the community.  The City Council's role is overall city policy but I am always happy to help residents get the operational services they want and need, but that primary responsibility actually goes to the City Manager and the respective staff.

In the last 24 hours I received the following requests: I had a request for new sidewalks near a busy street for a community who has been waiting for quite some time, a request to improve a neighbors house through forced code enforcement, a request for improved striping on newly paved roads, a request to improve possible safety defects in one of our parks, a request for a newspaper interview, a request for enforcement of a garage sale that has been going on every weekend for months and finally the note below (with the photo shown above with Gwinnett tags) requesting that the City of Dunwoody find a way to calm the traffic on North Peachtree Road.

Typically, I would forward this last message to Police Chief Grogan and Public Works who might do speed enforcement and explore other options to slow the traffic.  Since I also receive messages regarding tickets being given on N Peachtree Road; I know ticketing alone does not work, therefore I have decided to print the residents request for you to read for yourself.

Please do me a favor, watch the video posted below and the next time you drive on N Peachtree Road between Mt. Vernon and Peeler, please pay very close attention at the speed and try to stay under the maximum limit of 25 mph.  (My wife has a hard time doing this down the winding hills and has therefore started to use the brakes and cruise control.)  Imagine if hundreds of vehicles took it upon themselves to stick to the strict speed limit, on that road they would actually be changing the mind set (somewhat force-ably) of others around them to also drive slower too.  As far as the other items, they are all being reviewed by city staff and fyi the new asphalt through out the city will be getting new highly reflective professional striping and new crosswalks but please patient since we are waiting until all paving is done to do it all at once.  The striping on the streets now is only temporary.
Dear Councilman Heneghan,

I am not sure if you are my councilman, but I receive your blog and you seem to doing a great job for Dunwoody. I live at 5### North Peachtree Road, and I believe it is long overdue for this City to look at two things for North Peachtree Road.

1) Calm the speed using anything but humps…Circles narrow spots, anything.

2) Make North Peachtree Road a unattractive alternative to Tilly Mill or getting from Mt. Vernon to I-285 area. If you do item one then I hope item 2 takes care of itself.

The attached photo was taken today when some speeding teenagers lost control and overturned almost into Kingsley Lake. People cutting through this neighborhood and speeding are going to get people killed. This happened at 3:30PM Friday. Imagine if children walking home from Kingsley School were hit or pool goers at Kingsley Pool. When I moved here the speed on North Peachtree was 35. We got it to 25 and added some stop signs after a local girl was killed on the road.

If there is anything you can do, It would be appreciated. Anything I can do to help, I will. Thanks,


kathie said...

John, We drive on North Peachtree Road quite a bit (mainly to avoid the craziness that is Tilly Mill!) I can't tell you how many times I've been PASSED because we're driving the speed limit. Probably 10-12 times in the last year alone. The more common occurrence is for people to be so close to my bumper that I eventually pull over & let them pass me so I can get myself and my children away from such a dangerous situation.
I don't know what the answer is, but I would support anything it takes to slow people down. We happened to come upon the accident around 4ish yesterday (friday) and since I couldn't see the overturned car from where we were, I was concerned that a pedestrian/biker had been hit. It wouldn't have surprised me.
Thanks so much for all you do!!!

Joe Seconder said...

The periodic physical presence of law enforcement officers can only do so much. When I lived in Switzerland, they used speed / radar cameras. If you were going over the speed limit by a couple of km/hr, a big strobe light would flash, take a photo of your license plate and you'd get a ticket sent to you in the mail. This is a TRUE means of keeping traffic within the posted speed limit. Does Georgia Law expressly prohibit municipalities from using these? If not, let's consider them in several areas within the city.

Secondly, it's about the way the streets have been engineered. The wider the traffic lanes and straighter the road, will allow vehicles to drive faster.

FIX TODAY - Cost of paint:
Look at Womack: a) No yellow center dividing line between the two lanes. b) Added a striped outside lane marker a few feet from the curb.

Stripe the lane widths to 9 feet. This is NOT a truck route and will greatly serve as a traffic calming measure. (18 feet in-between the two outside white travel lane markers. See Table 19-2 Minimum Lane Width in the Florida DOT design manual

This will also more than likely provide the added benefit of having defacto bike lanes along the road segment. (If so, go ahead & paint & mark the lanes). Although N. Peachtree is considered "hilly" and some people might not have enough leg muscles built up yet, adding the bike lanes will provide the residents with an added safety feature with bicycle accommodation. Useful for exercising and taking short trips up to the old Ace or to Brook Run. (For you novice cyclists: Start slow and use an easy gear, "spinning" up the hill. Once you've done this for a few weeks, you'll find that you are able to climb the hills easier and a bit faster each time. Great aerobic exercise, too!)

FIX TOMORROW: Look up Chicanes. They're used in The Branches. "Chicanes are a type of "horizontal deflection" used in traffic calming schemes to reduce the speed of traffic. Drivers are expected to reduce speed to negotiate the lateral displacement in the vehicle path".

We're sitting on a HOST windfall of $3.7M that can be used for Capital Improvement projects. Just a few thousand of those dollars of the cost of paint & labor can make "quick wins", vastly improving the safety and livability of this corridor.

GaryRayBetz said...

I have been the old hippie (or more aptly old carny) with the babushka draped disheveled over my gray head that has run up and down North Peachtree Road in Dunwoody for over 18 years (although my fat ass won't necessarily attest to that) and have always felt that with there being only one out of ten vehicles that ever obey the 25 MPH speed limit, this stretch of road should be a goldmine for ticket revenue.

What I would suggest is that if Dunwoody Police place one or two squad cars on this route on a daily basis, they could generate enough revenue to pay all their salaries for a year and have enough left over to finance a policeman's ball with the tickets they write in a couple of months.

However, as I note the car in the ditch in your photo is a Mercedes, the Dunwoody Police Department needs to not be fearful of the political fall-out if they ticket the wealthy of Dunwoody and their spoiled scions tooling around at accelerated speeds in their BMW's, Cadillacs, Audi's, Mercedes, Porsches, Ferraris, and the like instead of setting up traps with confusing road construction signs and hidden radio cars on the entrance ramp to 285 to ambush outsiders unfamiliar with our area (that little shenanigan really embarrassed the city once the local TV stations got wind of that Keystone Cop caper).

And if the Dunwoody police really wanted more bang for their buck, they should encamp their radio cars outside of Dunwoody taverns and await noticeably inebriated patrons driving away (this, by the way, will not include me as this was why I had so many children - in order that I may have a staff of designated drivers at the ready 24x7). Of course, though, I do believe that if the Dunwoody police did circumscribe their efforts on the local lounges, the outcry of "entrapment" by the respective establishment owners and potential perps would be deafening.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

If you take an even closer look at that photo, beyond the make of the car, you'll see that the license plate says "Gwinnett". By definition, not "Dunwoody".

So the idea that this was a result of a spoiled rich kid in Dunwoody just went down the crapper.

During the day, "Dunwoody" is not just the 48K people who receive mail and put their heads on a pillow that night. "Dunwoody" also includes another 60K+ people who come in here to work, go to school, use recreational facilities and yes - drive through.

Enforcement needs to happen. I've seen Johnny Law parked on one of the side streets off N. P'tree from time to time. Maybe he needs to be there more often.

However that's only part of the process. With the "complete streets" initiative there has to be a whole lot more education on the rules of the road for all users, and not just stopping at the Dunwoody city limits.

I have an idea..... stay tuned.

GaryRayBetz said...

You're splitting hairs here, Ma'am, of which I have very little to spare. OK, the Dunwoody "area". Just drive west past Peeler on Winter's Chapel a little ways and you're in Gwinnett County.

Surely, you're not saying that the spoiled wealthy brats of the Dunwoody area are safe and considerate drivers. I've anecdotally witnessed too much to the contrary in the past 18 years to know that is definitely not true.

Think what you want to; however, I really believe that when comes to speeding and inconsiderate driving the citizens of Dunwoody are their own worst enemies and not some xenophobically conceived "outsiders".

Joe Hirsch said...

We spent about 50-grand on radar speed detection signs to reduce speeding by approx 4 mph in those areas. Should we buy more, or was that a waste? Have the signs lost their effectivness in the 2 years they have been there? (If any data shows a decrease in speeding on Womack, it is a result of the dramatic increase in traffic gridlock.)

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Whoa, Gary, slow your roll!
No one said this was an "us or them" call on who is the worst driver. You made a claim on this picture and I corrected it. Not a huge deal!

Put away the thesaurus, there's no xenophobia here. There is an acknowledgement that "Dunwoody" is bigger than the city limits and when you're talking about problems to be corrected, it involves a much bigger community than is usually imagined.

Tip a wet one, dude, we're on the same side!

Chip said...

King John:

You could forward a note to Chief Grogan regarding response to this accident.

As I approached around 4:15PM, DeKalb 18 Fire and EMS Rescue vehicles were blocking the n-bound lane of N. Peachtree, with stretchers and EMS personnel working on the sidewalk and in the roadway.

One of the Dunwoody Police cruisers blocked the SouthBound lane of N. Peachtree, effectively closing thru traffic.

Isn't it reasonable to expect the PD to advise oncoming motorists of blocked streets within a reasonable timeframe of an accident? Cruisers could have deployed DETOUR signs at Delverton and at Mt. Vernon to direct traffic around the obstacle.

Instead, the sole cruiser blocking the open and unaffected lane forced many drivers to stop, try to turn around, and go another way.

This is not the first time I've seen DPD block off intersections without providing any assistance to motorists. Seems a couple of pop-up detour signs carried in the cruisers could go a long way.


Sight Edman said...

Are the data collected by the radar speed signs available to the public? Does it require an open records request or is it proactively published?

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Chip's got a point here.
With all of the emphasis DPD is putting on social media, someone should have been on Twitter/FB/text-messaging-somehow/ the minute the officers were dispatched. According to twitter, the tweet re: this accident didn't go out until this morning. I would even have been happy to get a CallingPost robocall for something this severe.

Abhi said...


I would caution against the use of speed cameras. In the end government just use them as a source of revenue.

I was born in England and over 13 years when Labour in power, speed cameras started appearing on local street, instead of high-accident areas. They bring in £87 million, but accident rates have actually increased.

If the city does decide to use speed cameras, it should only be around schools and high-accident areas. If used CORRECTLY they are useful.

Chip said...

The "old fashioned" notion that the DPD might actually have to control traffic in the event of a road-closure due to an accident seems to be the element missing, here.

Controlling traffic at the accident site and providing a "safe zone" for fire and EMS workers is a legitimate requirement.

Going up/down a few blocks and setting up a detour sign or advising that traffic should seek alternate routes should also be a legitimate response to accidents on local or regional thoroughfares.

John Heneghan said...

I have already been in communication with our Public Works Director today and he stated that the city will be measuring the speed and traffic on N Peachtree once again but the last time it was measured it did not meet the criteria for traffic calming.

Chip, when I forwarded the residents message to Chief late last night, I included a link to this blog post, therefore I know he will see your comments. I won't speak for the Chief but I would think the first two cars would stop traffic from each direction, assist with on site emergency, control accident scene and then the following cars (if available) would be able to do what you are saying with those Detour signs. I saw positive feedback from a nearby resident who said the DPD did a fabulous job, but of course you were in a vehicle passing through and saw it differently.

In fact I received a few comments via e-mail, all positive and/or just a short kudos; but there are a few longer ones that I will post to the comments.

Site Admin, the data was pulled on a regular basis early on but I haven't seen it lately? PW just has to drive by and do a data dump.

SDOC, twitter is a great tool but there are only a select few (Chief and a few others) tweeting immediate info and those people are not always available.

I encourage everyone to sign up to do a Police ride along or the Citizens Police Academy as it will give you an appreciation for the tough job our officers do.

John Heneghan said...

Email I recieved on police response.

Dunwoody police did a great job getting to the scene. DeKalb Fire also responded very quickly. Although there were no fatalities, the police officers said the teenagers were lucky. They were wearing seat belts. Because North Peachtree through Kingsley is a heavy residential road, and filled with curves and hills, the speed limit is 25. The car that wrecked, was seen just moments before traveling down N. Peachtree at what one witness said was at least 50. The kids were just trying to cut through the neighborhood.

John Heneghan said...

Resident comment via email.

Dear Mr. Heneghan,

Thank you for your note about speeding. We moved back to Atlanta from Los Angeles 1.5 years ago after a five year stint in L.A. (the city with the nation's worst traffic problems). After being born and raised in Atlanta, I was surprised, when we returned, to see just how cavalier people are here and how much worse the traffic is now. There is not a day that goes by that I don't see people speed along our neighborhood street cutting through from Chamblee-Dunwoody to Womack or vice-versa. I think some of them live nearby, but some of them, clearly, are just passing through, so for us to get them to stop speeding will take strict police enforcement since those passing through don't really know or care about our kids and streets. I hope the City steps it up to force them to slow down.

As a sidebar, I go no faster than 40 on Chamblee-Dunwoody and really p**s people off behind me -- especially the ones who were going 55-60+ before they caught up to me. Between the speeding on side streets, the constant texting and talking on cell phones while driving, and those who I see run red lights every day (especially at Mt. Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody), it makes me want to move for my safety and that of my child's. I even get nervous knots in my stomach when my husband takes my son for a bike ride in our neighborhood because I'm so afraid he'll be struck by a speeding car, even though he uses excellent judgement and caution.

I wish Dunwoody had the option of raising the fines for people speeding in residential areas, running red lights, or texting while driving. It is out of control out here, and people simply can't be bothered by putting safe driving first.

I'm glad you're voicing our concerns. I really appreciate all you do for Dunwoody!


Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

Take a quick look at Longview Drive - the "main drag" through Huntley Hills subdivision. Somehow the street, which reaches from N. Shallowford to PIB has managed to stay at 25 mph. There are also speedbumps and a bike lane. These items were in place before Huntley Hills was taken in by the City of did this happen for that street,which is not near as busy as North Peachtree?

Bob Turner said...

Reading these comments I dont think anyone in Dunwoody should admit being on the same side as GaryRayBetz. This guy is so far to the left, he would have made Che Guevara blush. I think he headed up a against the Iraqi war and a Fabian Society chapter at the same time. But if you ever talked to this lunatic one thing you will know is that he doesnt need a thesaurus.

John Heneghan said...

Here is another comment I received via email that I wanted to clear with the writer before posting. As you see from his position in the community, I value his remarks.


As you know I am the crossing guard at DES, and we have the same (if not worst problem on Womack). My question to you and "maybe Chief Grogan" is can we not make the entire stretch of Womack Rd from Tilly Mill to Chamblee Dunwoody Rd a 25 mph residential speed limit. This would make the speed limits more uniform as to the times of school crossing zones for Dunwoody High and for Dunwoody Elementary.

I don't have to tell you (and the entire council) what a problem we have at the DES school cross walks. It is 100 times worse now that we have k thru 5 with all the younger kids.

You and Chief Grogan are "dead nut right" we MUST have the cooperation of our own citizens, parents and young drivers to make this work for our city.

Thanks for all you , the council, Chief Grogan's operations do, it would really be a mess without these efforts.


Sight Edman said...

Thanks for the feedback. it correct to say that the radar speed signs collect data, Dunwoody Public Works did download the data early on, they may or may not be downloading the data now, and getting public access to that data will not be without effort?

Pattie Baker said...

Two quick comments--I found it harrowing to teach my teen to drive here recently. Before she was ready to make rights on red, drivers behind her aggressively honked at her to do so. Please be mindful that many 15-year-olds are learning to drive on our streets, and it's hard when many drivers are speeding, not using signals, following too closely, not stopping at stop signs, and being aggressive.

Speaking of 15-year-old, a 15-year-old on a bike was hit on Mt. Vernon today. The police report indicates it was the driver's fault. I believe the injuries were minor although the bike was supposedly mangled. That's all I've heard.

Elizabeth said...

I disagree with the notion that the city should be making N Peachtree a "less attractive alternative" to Tilly Mill. Tilly Mill is a residential street just like N Peachtree is. People speed through Tilly Mill (especially between N Peachtree and PIB) like crazy, with little to no enforcement by Dunwoody policy. I would like to see more enforcement on this stretch of road. Also, is the city planning to re-paint the cross walk at Androver and Tilly Mill? There are a lot of kids who walk to school who have a difficult enough time crossing Tilly Mill even WITH the cross walk. Ever since the city paved over it, it has been even worse.

John Heneghan said...

Site Admin, I just requested the sign data as it is worthwhile to review the effectiveness of these devices over time. I have also asked about ongoing costs vs. original install expenses to see if it makes sense to expand the program or not.

Elizabeth, it is a well known fact that fresh paving does in fact raise the speed of the drivers on the street but once the citywide paving is done the striping contractor will lay down highly reflective thermoplastic striping over the temporary markings which may reduce the driven speed. The crosswalks (previously installed) will be redone and I am still looking to have lit signalized crosswalks installed where it makes sense to do so.

The question of stepped up traffic enforcement on Tilly Mill and everywhere else requested within the city limits, is a budgetary and manpower issue that I believe will soon be discussed by Council during.

The level of service requested by the citizens as this thread shows is rather high and Chief Grogan is doing everything he can to maximize his resources to fulfill the requests for service as his current manpower allocation will allow. Council will ultimately have to decide if the manpower allocation and current service level is correct as budgeted or will tweaks need to be made.

Stay Tuned

PS: I forwarded your request for more speed enforcement on Tilly Mill between PTIB and Peeler.

Sight Edman said...

Mr. Heneghan,

Thanks. I look forward to seeing the data. At the time these were installed the only long-term research I could find indicated that these are not a replacement for enforcement but could be used to enhance it.

Now if I can just get data on date, time, location and offense for all traffic citations :)

John Heneghan said...

Site Admin, you want the data on date, time, location and offense for all traffic citations?

We already publish this to the web as the officers upload the tickets into the database, it is located at the link below.


Sight Edman said...

Thanks again. The website is OK for perusal but are the data available in machine-readable form? CSV? Screen scraping is a pain.

The displayed data seem to be a grouping of DB table columns and it would be nice to be able to generate different reports than those available here. Also, if there are additional data (lat/long would be *real* nice) that would be helpful as well.

Joe Seconder said...

Remember, folks. It starts with Engineering. People will drive the speed that the road is designed for. It will take some time to implement road diets, lane narrowing, and other traffic calming measures. Again, is it against Georgia law for a municipality to have speed cameras? I agree with taking Womack & Vermack down to 25 MPH, too. Both of those roads need camling measures, too.