Last Sunday morning I was driving down Ave D here in Brooklyn. For my friends who may not know, recently the traffic engineers, the police and the city managers, etc, here, have combined to make traffic use in the city more user friendly to cyclists, and to move traffic along. To this end many streets now have separate parking lanes, cycle lanes and vehicle lanes.
On Ave D there is two-way traffic, and a single driving lane either way. I was sedately going along my way at about 30 mph (48 kph). The car behind me kept tooting his horn regularly. Before a situation developed where I may have been hurt either verbally or physically a police car came from a cross street and joined the line in front of me; we all followed calmly. It is well known that there is a charge here for impeding the flow of traffic, and in fact some highways, like Southern State post a minimum as well as a maximum speed rate.
Fast backward to late January when I was in Guyana. I drove daily somewhere between the East Bank Demerara, East Coast Dem as far as Buxton, in Georgetown and up the Linden Highway. Because of traffic fears I refused to drive on the East Bank road at night.
One afternoon on my way up the East Bank public road I was stopped by the police just past Agricola. On my enquiry as to why I was stopped the traffic officer showed me his radar gun that said 65 kph (40 mph) and said that I was speeding. I asked what was the speed limit there as I saw none posted. He said that it was 48 kph (30 mph). Yaah!
I told him to give me my ticket, and incidentally I paid ($7500) against the advice of some friends! Was that speed really mine?
Let me say up front that I have no objection to the police doing their job in a professional manner. What I cannot understand is the definition of speeding, especially on the main roadways and not in any built-up area/city street. I am no traffic engineer but I wonder how traffic will move when such speed limits are set!
As a layman I would make some suggestions:
Whoever is responsible should have the speeding tickets stopped and warnings issued while realistic speed limits are set. There is no need on those roads for the lower speed limit to be less than 64 kph. After the upper limits are set then give tickets for speeding, but find a way to penalise higher speeds by higher ticket value.
Set times when those large trucks can travel on the East Bank. We need a staging area and police presence at the Highway/Soesdyke junction to check and regulate truck traffic and check for roadworthiness. Keep them there if they are not fit to drive.
Carry out an exercise against drivers who pull off the road, immediately put on their turn signal against the direction of the stop, and then suddenly pull out into the traffic. I think this is responsible for more damage than speeding ten miles over thirty.
Go back to the older days and have (PWD) crews patching small holes on the roads. I am sure that two or three, two-person crews can manage the whole of the East Bank. There is now patching solvent that does not require heat to fix small holes, and the cost benefit will be worth it.
When I travelled on the Linden Highway, I remarked that the road reminded me of the turbulence we feel in an aircraft. Is it really that we cannot find funds to take care of that vital link? Or is that we have another agenda?
There must be a better way to control the illegal animal traffic grazing on the roads. What about giving police officers digital cameras and letting them take photos of the cows and having the owners pay a hefty fine? Or hire animal catchers to round up those cows not branded and sell them to the butchers, sharing the cash equally. Something must be done very soon to stop this menace.
And finally I wonder why the whole of the East Bank road from Timehri to Georgetown is still not properly lit after dark? Drivers are forced to use their bright lights to try to see and then are reluctant to lose visibility and dim the lights for oncoming traffic. Surely many drivers, like me, take the easy way out and try not to drive at night!