Manteca needs more police officers.
There’s no debate.
But like all cities, it has a lot of pressing needs. It is doubtful that anyone running the city can add enough officers quickly enough to satisfy public wants and needs and still be fiscally responsible and not desecrate other services.
This is where Gary Singh comes in.
The councilman gets an earful from people every day just like his colleagues. He also has eyes. And Singh is also pragmatic. The city can’t go on a police hiring binge to address legitimate quality of life concerns citizens raise if it risks derailing other pressing needs. That means to better serve Manteca residents one of two things or both need to be done — taxes raised specifically for the purpose of hiring more officers or finding other solutions that can help address community concerns.
One of those concerns is speeding.
There are more than a few people driving too fast near schools and parks on collector streets and when using neighborhoods streets as a shortcut.
Manteca could hire five more traffic officers and still not have enough manpower to throttle back speeding and inattentive driving.
Singh’s solution? Speed bumps.
It’s something he’s advocated since getting elected to the City Council 16 months ago. It’s safe to say it’s not an idea that city staff embraces.
Speed bumps have been intentionally left out of the so-called “tool box” the city has to fix neighborhood street issues. The “tool box” includes things such as bulb outs, narrowing travel lanes by painting bicycle lanes, stop signs and such but not speed bumps.
Speed bumps have effectively been deployed in Stockton’s Weston Ranch neighborhood to slow traffic near schools and enhance pedestrian safety. Turlock has used them to prevent those using residential streets as short cuts to go between collector streets to reach the California State University, Stanislaus campus to stop speeders or to discourage people from taking a street not intended for heavier traffic flows.
In both cases the police and fire departments in both cities have never had a situation where the speed bumps created a serious delay in an emergency response.
Singh isn’t saying not to hire more police. He wants more police as we can responsibly afford them but he also wants the city to do a better job at making Manteca as livable as possible whether it is someone buying in a new neighborhood or people living in the city’s established neighborhoods.
It should be noted the city had a list of traffic calming devices that developers have to put in place in new neighborhoods to slow vehicles near new parks and future school sites. They include bulb outs at corners, roundabouts, and even narrowing streets at mid-block.
Singh believes those who live in existing Manteca neighborhoods should get the same consideration for the safety of their families and neighbors.
A recent Facebook poll Singh conducted seems to support that notion. Some 70 percent of respondents favor speed bumps out of 2,400 participants. It’s not a scientific poll but it certainly is a clear indication that people want their community safer and that they are open to solutions that Manteca for whatever reason has pooh poohed for years.
The names of streets they suggested for speed bumps — Daniels Street, Wawona Street, Alameda Street, and Powers Avenue — all happen to have parks and schools on them.
While you can’t place speed bumps on South Powers as it would immediately slow down almost every response from the fire station, speed bumps on North Powers where a motorcyclist died last month due in part to speeding might help stop people from crashing into homes on a fairly routine basis.
And once Daniels is punched through to McKinley speed bumps may prevent Daniels from Fishback Road to Union Road from turning into a heavily traveled shortcut.
As for the expense, Singh believes the city could look at speed bumps made from recycled tires that can be deployed at a lower cost. They can also be removed fairly easily if there are second thoughts.
Singh points out the city could internally come up with response routes for emergency vehicles to avoid speed bumps when practical. It’s not exactly a state secret that at certain times of the day when responding to emergencies that require crossing town Manteca Police will do what they can to avoid the congested downtown corridor.
Speed bump design has improved drastically in recent years. It’s no longer just a relatively short hump of raised asphalt across a street.
There’s even a relatively new category dubbed “speed tables”. They are mid-block traffic calming devices that raise the entire wheelbase of a vehicle with a “table” that rises up 3 to 3.5 inches and is 22 feet in length.
The bottom line is Manteca needs to make our streets safer. And one of the best ways is to address speeding on non-arterial streets or legitimately designed collector streets with the most egregious speeding issues.