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Speed tables installed in Lakewood to deter drivers from speeding, cutting through side streets

Data shows drivers crashing more often on cut-through streets off Franklin with stop signs
Posted at 9:00 AM, Oct 25, 2019

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The city of Lakewood is trying out speed tables, essentially elongated speed bumps, to try to slow drivers down as they travel through the city and encourage them to stay on bigger roads better built for more traffic.

In Lakewood, those streets are Madison Avenue, Detroit Avenue, and Franklin Boulevard.

A study in the summer of 2018 looked at traffic along Franklin Boulevard and found that there was enough speeding and crashes on side streets like Marlowe Avenue for the city to do something about it.

They installed two speed tables in late October on Marlowe to slow cars down and make drivers pay better attention to the speed at which they are traveling.

"It's such a long street without a break, they zoom," said Marlowe Avenue resident Jessica Davidson, referring to how cars would pass her house before the speed tables were installed.

Lakewood City Planner David Baas says when drivers have an open road for more than 600 feet, there is a greater chance they'll drive too fast. Marlowe Avenue is 1,600 feet long and many of Lakewood's other cut-through streets are a similar length.

"What a method like this tries to do is it tries to return the conditions to a level that's more compatible with the neighborhood and the street characteristics," said Baas.

Davidson says she and her neighbors already seeing the benefit of the speed tables and can hear drivers learn, loudly, not to go too fast down Marlowe.

"We've noticed some slowing," said Davidson. "There's definitely moments when we're in the house upstairs tucking the kids in and 'wha-bam!' They didn't slow down."

The equipment for the speed tables was donated by NOACA and will stay in place for at least three months while Lakewood studies how it affects drivers' behavior. After that pilot program, the city will determine if they'd like to make the speed tables permanent, try them somewhere else, try another traffic calming method, or some combination of all four.

"We're an 1890s-designed city with 2019 traffic problems," said Ward 3 Councilman John Litten. "We're a city where 40,000 or more cars go to sleep at night."

Litten says speed tables are only part of the city's approach to making the streets safer, combined with additional speed signs that tell drivers how fast they're moving, traffic cameras, and passing a law making distracted driving a primary offense.