The Highway Safety Committee will send a letter to a resident of the Beaver Lake area advising her that they will not lower the speed limit, but will continue to enforce the speed limit that exists.
At the Oct. 15 meeting, the committee considered a second request from Robyn Tolman, who wrote that her neighborhood was subject to “a continued high speed of traffic” and “road rage against those observing the speed limit and pedestrians” on North Shore Road.
Tolman, representing a dozen families in the lake area, first wrote to the committee on Feb. 14, 2015. At that time she listed the following concerns:
• Near misses, when speeding vehicles come within inches of a person walking, jogging, getting the mail or waiting for the school bus;
• Property damage, including downed mailboxes, marred trees and smashed structures;
• Aggressive driver behavior, including tailgating, blowing horns, giving the “finger,” swearing and speeding; and
• Speeding associated with and leading to motor vehicle collisions.
The group formed a yahoo group at email@example.com, and Tolman presented a PowerPoint at the March Safety Committee meeting.
But Alan Cote, Superintendent of Operations, did a traffic study and at the April meeting he reported back that the majority of the drivers were going the speed limit or below.
At the time, Cote said he used a program developed by the Federal Highway Administration to guide the recommendation of speed limits, and using that program, determined that after putting in all the data, the recommended speed limit for that area was 35 miles per hour. The current speed limit is 30 mph.
According to Cote, the program takes into account 85th percentile speed, 50th percentile speed, statutory speed limit, average daily traffic counts, roadway alignment, number of lanes, number of driveways and roadway intersections, on-street parking and pedestrian and bicycle use.
Cote said according to the study, the 85th percentile was 40 mph and the 50th percentile was 28.9 mph.
The Derry Police Department put out its radar trailer to make drivers aware of their speeds, and because some Hampstead students use the road as a shortcut to Pinkerton Academy, Police Chief Ed Garone also used the School Resource Officer.
“I’m not sure what else we can do,” Cote said.
Garone said he is continuing to monitor the situation and will direct his late-night and early-morning shifts to increase patrols in the area. In addition, he said, he will put up a speed notification sign.
With many of the homes 3 feet from the pavement, the majority of the drivers are going to back off, Cote said. And the majority of drivers tend to go more slowly because it is such a narrow road.
“The empirical data does not show a need to reduce the speed limit,” Garone said.
Cote reminded the group of the 85th percentile, a standard used in evaluating speed limits. “If you have 100 cars a day, the 85th percentile is the 85 drivers that are traveling the speed limit or lower,” he said. “There are 15 percent of the population who will never adhere to the law. And there are 85 percent who have a head on their shoulders and drive at a reasonable rate.”
Cote asked the rhetorical question, “What do you do with the other 15 percent? The police could sit out there for eight hours, and maybe see one car. They have a limited number of resources. They have to focus on where the problems are.
“Perception and reality,” Cote said, “are not always the same.”
“There is not much else we can do,” Committee Chair Scott Savard said.
The group agreed to have a letter sent to Tolman detailing what they can and can’t do.