5. PROGRAM EVALUATION (continued)5.4 Process Assessment
Following completion of the program, a joint meeting was held with the Peoria and Phoenix traffic engineering and police personnel who had served on the steering committee for the study The purpose of the meeting was to obtain their opinions on the effectiveness of the program and its components as well as suggestions for program improvement. Information was also sought on whether or not committee members would recommend that specific program components be included in a national guide for reducing speeds in neighborhoods.
Similar discussions were held with representatives from the neighborhoods under study. Two of these latter discussions were held by telephone. There was no discussion with representatives from the Clarendon Avenue neighborhood since the lack of either a homeowner's association or a vocal group of citizens prevented identifying residents to speak for the neighborhood.
Specific information obtained from these discussions is described in the following paragraphs.5.4.1 Program Conduct and Coordination
When the two cities agreed to participate in the study, a committee was established to oversee the conduct of the program. It consisted of police and traffic representatives who met approximately monthly to oversee program activities. The committee members felt that the frequency of these meetings was adequate. They provided an opportunity for all involved to review accomplishments achieved to date, discuss and resolve any problems encountered since the last meeting, and make plans for the future.
It was noted that there was a great deal of media attention to the program at the beginning, and then it tapered off. It was suggested that adding a public information person to the basic committee might have been helpful in maintaining a higher level of earned media for the program.5.4.2 Selection of Program Neighborhoods
All of the neighborhoods selected for study had previously requested city support for a speeding problem. Some had complained frequently to the police about speeders. In Peoria , both Desert Harbor and 95 th Avenue were considered by the police to be good selections for the program. Police representatives considered Desert Harbor to be best in terms of interest. There was a designated neighborhood coordinator for that site, many yard signs were displayed, and there was a great deal of neighborhood involvement In contrast, the residents of Bell Park, although vocal and persistent, concentrated on their desire for the installation of speed tables and appeared to be less interested in the other program activities.
In Phoenix , police representatives considered that Moon Valley and Sweetwater were good test sites – residents wanted them there. There was not much interest evident in the Clarendon neighborhood. Contributing to this problem was the lack of a homeowner's association. Police also felt that the existing speed humps on Clarendon slowed their movements and that it may not have been a good idea to select a test neighborhood with existing speed humps. This sentiment, however, was expressed before the foregoing speed results were available showing a marked decrease in speeds on the stretches of Clarendon between the speed humps.
Police representatives recommended that, in selecting neighborhoods for a model program, there should be evidence that the speeders are local and that the neighborhood residents want a police presence there. As stated previously, the latter was a requirement for the present study. It is not clear how a committee or decision-maker could determine the residence location of the speeders in a particular neighborhood unless the police made a series of stops such as those conducted in the present program as one test of the suitability of a neighborhood for participation in a Heed the Speed effort.5.4.3 Neighborhood Speed Watch
Police in both cities trained a small group of volunteers to participate in a neighborhood speed watch program. The police reported that, although the concept of a neighborhood speed watch is good, the residents of the study neighborhoods did not show much interest once the training was completed. In Peoria , apparently a fair number of people signed up for training but, except for one resident, no reports documenting their efforts subsequent to the training were submitted to the police department. In fact, only the one resident in Desert Harbor actually made speed measurements, and that person was still making the measurements after the program ended. He felt that the neighborhood speed watches were good at reducing speeds. Police representatives reported that it is good to offer the training as a tool, but there may be better ways to use resources. This is especially true because most departments will have to invest in additional portable radars in order to support neighborhood speed watches.
Some neighborhood representatives reported that a speed watch “is not my job.” They considered it to be a police function and that photo radar should be used instead15. Residents reported that they did not actually make speed measurements after being trained to do so because they could not find another person to work with as called for in the protocol. They also noted that it was not fun anymore after the initial training. Other respondents felt that speed watches should be included in a model program since they teach people who the speeders are and that the problem may not be as big as it is perceived to be. Speed watches get the speeders and educate the neighborhood.5.4.4 Police Enforcement
Peoria focused the first two weeks of police enforcement only in Bell Park . They then concentrated on 91 st and 95 th Avenues, and finally went back to Bell Park . They went out during rush hours and stopped as many speeders as they could. In Phoenix , assignment of neighborhoods was random. They tried to improve police visibility so they tried to be out there at rush hour and at school lunch time. They saturated the entire neighborhood in an attempt to get as much education out as possible.
The police liked the idea of stopping people for speeding but not ticketing them except in extreme cases because of the time it takes to issue and process a ticket – although some felt it was important to “hit them in the pocketbook.” They noted that warnings could effectively be used the first week of a campaign, and that no one going 5 to 10 miles over the posted speed should be ticketed just for speeding. The courts in the area are not heavily overloaded, but any massive increase in speeding citations could tip the scales. It was noted that the Phoenix City Council likes a warning phase for programs of this type – it makes the program more acceptable to the public. It was noted that speeders just over the speed limit who receive warnings are not the problem.
Police reported that the forms provided by the project were easy to complete and were filled out on virtually all stops. During the stops, some officers gave a little talk on Heed the Speed , some read information to the driver from the flyer and some used data in the flyer to show how long it would take for the driver to stop at the speed the driver was traveling. Police liked the literature-education phase and the ticket concept for an established (not a transient) neighborhood.
Police felt the following should be added to this study's police stop form if it were ever to be used again as part of a Heed the Speed evaluation:
Near the end of the study, police reported that people were aware of the program. They saw changes in the roadway. Some people stopped and asked how to get the program in their neighborhoods. Some asked if they could get something for the officers (like breakfast) and thanked them for being there. The citizens appeared to appreciate why the police were there. There were lots of “thumbs up” as cars drove by. Officers felt that education should be included to get the community interest.
Both police and neighborhood representatives felt that it would be a good idea to double the fine for speeding in residential neighborhoods as is done in road work zones in many states. An area could be designated as a Heed the Speed neighborhood for double fines. It would need to be done through the legislature or as an administrative action of the motor vehicle authority depending on the particular state. It was noted that the big financial impact of a ticket is the resulting increase in insurance rates. The cost of the fine is small compared to long-term increases in insurance rates.
Neighborhood representatives found the police involvement to be very good and felt that the police stops decreased speeds. Some felt that all resources should be given to enforcement. In addition, they recommended that a police car be parked on the street on a regular basis.5.4.5 Signs
The yellow program lawn signs were reported to be very conspicuous and to contribute to program awareness. At the beginning of the program many signs were displayed, but their use tapered off. Some just disappeared – particularly at Halloween. Keeping them up was a challenge. Use appeared to vary by neighborhood and seemed to be positively correlated with the presence of a strong neighborhood association. Phoenix and Peoria representatives were still getting requests for them long after the program ended. Neighborhood representatives liked them. They reported that their visibility is good, they are lightweight and easy to carry around, they are legible, they have a clear message and the quality and appearance are “great.” It was recommended that the signs be moved around occasionally because after a while people don't see them when they remain in the same place. Children loved them and took them to school for “Show and Tell.”
Neighborhood residents liked the metal street signs at the entry points to the neighborhood but would have preferred them to be more eye-catching so that they would stand out from other traffic signs. Some felt that they should be yellow to match the lawn signs. It was suggested that they be larger and more conspicuous. Also, some residents said they would like more of them. Police representatives also reported that they would like more of them. They said that, if a sign is there when the officer is writing a ticket or explaining the program, the officer can point to it.5.4.6 Other Publicity
Comments on other publicity were varied. Some thought the printed materials were “great,” one said they were not very effective, and one said he hadn't seen any of them but had seen an article in the newspaper. One neighborhood coordinator found them to be “good basic materials.” That person found the material for car dealers to be the most helpful and claimed to have noticed a big decrease in test drives in the neighborhood after the flyer (that was designed specifically for car dealerships) had been delivered. The materials were reported to be worthwhile particularly in making people aware of the speeding problem. One neighborhood coordinator received permission from the school board to distribute materials to the children to take home to their parents. That person felt that, if the children are educated, the parents will follow. One coordinator paid children to deliver the program materials in the neighborhood.5.4.7 Traffic Calming
At the start of the program, there were existing speed humps on 85 th Lane in Peoria and on Clarendon Avenue in Phoenix . Added as part of the Heed the Speed program were speed tables on 84 th Avenue in Peoria and speed humps on Moon Valley Drive in Phoenix . Comments on these traffic calming techniques were positive. They were installations that had been requested by neighborhood residents and had been approved through a prescribed consensus process.5.4.8 Roadway Visual Treatments
The committee felt that the 3-D markings and Tyregrip™ installations probably had no effect on speed except for the first time they were observed. Curiously, this opinion is not supported by the speed data which show some persistence of effect, although the follow-on measurement period is not very long. Neighborhood representatives confirmed this observation. They reported that the illusions fooled people for a while. One resident reported that they may have worked for about a week. One said they caused a few near rear-end collisions. Some drivers swerved to avoid them. Neighborhood residents did not see people slowing down for Tyregrip™.
Both the committee members and neighborhood representatives stated that these roadway treatments drew attention to the program. Suggestions were made to replace these treatments with striping or possibly road reflectors that make a noise when a vehicle goes over them. It was also noted that, if yellow is used in the signs, it also should be used in the roadway treatments. The word “SLOW” could be written in the road.
It was noted by engineering representatives that roadway treatments might beneficially have been incorporated earlier to draw attention to the program. These treatments were applied late in the program and were labor intensive. Certain directions of light caused glare and affected how the 3-D markings were noticed. Possibly a different pattern and more markings in the pattern would have been a better choice. Possibly signs could have been placed beside them as warnings that they were there.
It must be noted that these comments were made in the absence of the speed results presented earlier. It would be interesting to determine if some of these opinions might change after exposure to the speed findings. In particular, there is an apparent persistence, at least short term, of the speed reductions associated with the roadways visual treatments beyond one or two exposures. This may suggest that these markings produce two different effects. At first they trick the senses into believing there is an impediment in the roadway that requires a reduction in speed. After the motorist becomes familiar with them and realizes they do not impede motion, they may still serve as a reminder that the neighborhood is actively attempting to control speeds. This is supported by the compelling visual signal presented by both the 3-D and Tyregrip™ materials even when the viewer knows they are present and is aware of what they are.5.4.9 Program Suggestions
Several suggestions were made for program materials/concepts in future Heed the Speed efforts. These included:
The following comments were made by neighborhood residents:
The Heed the Speed program elicited mostly positive and constructive comments from both those who helped mount it and the citizens it affected. Together with the survey data presented earlier, these follow-up commentaries on the process suggest that the concept of a multi-disciplinary, multi-faceted neighborhood speed reduction program is well accepted and can likely be improved in future implementations based on the experiences in Phoenix and Peoria and the suggestions made by the participants and citizens.