Neigborhood concerned by late night speeding

By LAURA WEICK
Posted 7/2/20

Neighborhoods off West Shore Road and Warwick Neck Avenue are lined with tire marks and signs reading "Caution: Children at Play." This is because residents concerned with neighborhood speeding feel officials are not doing enough to keep

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Neigborhood concerned by late night speeding

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Neighborhoods off West Shore Road and Warwick Neck Avenue are lined with tire marks and signs reading “Caution: Children at Play.” This is because residents concerned with neighborhood speeding feel officials are not doing enough to keep children safe from potential accidents.

One resident living near Palmer Avenue, who wished to remain anonymous, moved to the neighborhood because it had a reputation of being a family-friendly, suburban area. But despite the area speed limit being 25 mph, she has seen cars race to 60 mph on the road. Some of the cars appeared to be drag racing on the street, according to the resident, and the road has tire and burn marks due to the excessive speeding.

The resident reported the cars drive so fast that tires squeal and wake her and her family in the middle of the night. The resident recognizes a few certain cars that frequently engage in the extreme speeding, but said others are one-off occurrences.

“I might understand if it was a main street, but this is a neighborhood,” she said. “People do not care that there is a toddler living here, and there are lots of families and small children here.” 

The resident, whose family includes a toddler, added that she worried about their child getting hit by one of the speeding cars, which is why she keeps a close watch on the child. The resident explained that they would like to see more safety measures put in place because of this. For example, the resident said that Warwick police placed a light-up sign that showed the speed a car was traveling at to slow down cars on Palmer Avenue for about a month, which the resident said worked well. However, the resident said police took the sign down about a month later.

“I’d like one of those flashing safety signs, maybe a sign that says that there are children in the neighborhood, even a speed bump,” the resident said. “I know in East Providence they have a speed trap, a speed trap would be wonderful.”

The resident claims she reported the speeding to the mayor, city council and police department multiple times. However, she said they think the mayor’s office hasn’t taken the issue seriously, and the police have told them that monitoring every speeding violation on the street would require, in the resident’s words, “a lot of effort.” She also reported seeing police cars in the daytime in the area, which has helped slow down cars, but the resident said most extreme cases occur at night, something police have not addressed.

“I know the city has bigger fish to fry, but I do figure they would take the safety of their residents more seriously,” the resident said.

Ward 5 City Councilman Ed Ladouceur said that the area has been a common location for speeding for years, especially over the summer. In a recent email to Warwick Police he said reckless driving is growing worse.

“I’m not sure if it’s drag racing,” Ladouceur said. “I don’t see a double set of skid marks. But what I do see is these hot rodders who are showing off over there, 60 mph, 70 mph. We’re not going to tolerate it.”

According to Ladouceur, he and other council members try to patrol their wards multiple times a day. Warwick Police have also patrolled the area, according to Ladouceur, but he would like to see increased patrol. Ladouceur also suggested police deploy unmarked cars during evening hours instead of only patrolling in marked cars in daylight.

“[The drivers] have no consideration for the safety, law or people on that street,” Ladouceur said. “I’ve had numerous conversations with the Warwick police about increasing patrol.”

Ladouceur also said that although the light-up speed signs are effective, they are also expensive. As a result, the city has had to move them around to different areas depending on need, hence why the resident reported the sign only being on their street for a month.

“Unfortunately, there’s only a few signs for the entire city,” Ladouceur said. “Part of it is because of money. Those signs are about $50,000 a piece. In the past year or two, everyone’s been crunching numbers.”

Capt. Michael Lima director of the Warwick Police Department’s Community Services Division said that about citizens have reported speeding problems on about 40 streets in the city. However, Lima said that usually only one or two people complained on each street, with only one complaint regarding Palmer Avenue. Lima said that because residential backroads are often windier than main roads, residents may believe that cars appear to travel faster than their actual speed.

Lima said police have patrolled Palmer Avenue about 20 times this year. He reported that 10 cars were stopped, while three motorists received speeding tickets. However, he described these incidents as outliers, and that he is unaware of any accidents occurring on the road.

“Looking at the data, 29.5 mph was the average speed, on a road with a speed limit of 25 mph,” Lima reported. “For us that was very marginal. I’m sure there's cars that speed by, but the facts we have here show it’s not a major problem.”

However, Lima wants citizens to speak up when they feel there is an issue in their neighborhood.

“We rely on citizens to tell us when problems are happening,” Lima explained.

Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon said he has heard of concerns about speeding on roads near Rocky Point, but police officers cannot be “everywhere at once.”

“I know that whether it be Palmer Avenue, or anywhere in the city where problems occur, they address it,” Solomon said. “We’ve got a great traffic division. And I don’t think anyone’s concern is being ignored. I would beg to differ with that.”

When asked about Ladouceur’s concerns, he said that he was unfamiliar with him voicing complaints.

“This is the first I’ve heard about the local councilman’s concern in that area, because he’s never told me about that,” Solomon said. “I don’t know if he’s conveyed to the police department like I have conveyed it to the police department.”

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