MBCG Seeks Radar Displays To Nab Speeders

An example of a radar speed display monitor (Courtesy of Peds.org)

If a driver speeds in Manhattan Beach, and everyone’s around to see it, will it slow his butt down?

The Manhattan Beach Community Group is betting it will, and that’s why they’re lobbying to install radar speed display monitors along Oriental Boulevard.

The group passed a motion Wednesday night to endorse a plan pressuring local politicians to find funds for the monitor.

“I think it’s a great deterrent,” said Judy Baron, chair of MBCG’s traffic committee. Baron came up with the idea after seeing the radars in use on vacation in Boca Raton, Fl. When she entered areas where the signs were up, “everyone was going 30 miles per hour. It was amazing,” she said.

The solar-powered signs use radar to detect speeds and then display the results on a screen that can vary in size, making clear to speeders that they’re going over the limit. Data collected by the radar is saved and can be transmitted to local police precincts and highway patrol to reveal the most frequent times that speeders are careening down the boulevard. Lawmen can increase enforcement at those times.

Manhattan Beach residents grapple with speeders along its two major arteries, Oriental Boulevard and Shore Boulevard. Residents say the speeding gets worse when Kingsborough Community College is in session and students rush to and from classes. In October 2009, 34 summonses were issued in the neighborhood for speeding. And along the corridor light poles are adorned with flowers for those killed by speeding and reckless driving.

“Making Manhattan Beach safe not only for its residents, but for the thousands of people who work, play and visit Manhattan Beach is my highest priority,” MBCG President Ira Zalcman said in a statement about the proposal. “I was delighted when members of our traffic committee, after having done extensive research on these devices informed me that they are effective in reducing vehicular speed.”

Baron said Manhattan Beach would be the first New York community with the signs, but they’ve proven effective in neighborhoods in Chicago, Miami, Denver, and Los Angeles.

City Councilman Michael Nelson, who was at the MBCG meeting, said that it could be a “pilot program for other communities” in New York City, but that the “number one issue is going to be fiscal restraints.”

According to Baron, she’s received estimates from several manufacturers of the radar speed display monitors and they range in price from $3,400 to around $6,000. The group is asking for four signs to be installed – two on each side of Oriental Boulevard. The total cost would be around $13,000 and $24,000.

Nelson said it “would be so incredibly difficult” to find the funds during a troubled economy but the best bet would be to request it from the capital budget. He also said he would look to see if he could get money that was earmarked for traffic safety programs.

The councilman said the nearly $600,000 he receives for discretionary funding couldn’t be used to cover the expense.

Baron, though, insisted that the program would be a good investment for the city since they can maximize efficiency of police resources. The data will give officers the knowledge of when they’ll be most likely to catch speeders and issue tickets.

“The city will make a lot of money,” she said. “They’ll make back their $6,000. It’ll pay for itself.”

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