Akron neighborhood takes on speeders with signs, petitions

AKRON, Ohio - The Fairlawn Heights neighborhood has for many years been a quiet, residential community bridging the cities of Fairlawn and Akron.

Designed decades ago without sidewalks, the speed limit is posted as 25. But homeowners say over the years, they have seen not only the volume, but the speed of traffic increase.

GPS is partially blamed for directing drivers from Interstate 77 into the community as a shortcut from the interstate.

Jim Doerr said he has lived in the community for 31 years and the problem of people speeding through the community continues to get worse.

"When you come off the expressway, when its 65 out there, going on 75 in reality, and they turn up here onto Ridgewood, they are still in expressway mode so just a real increase in the volume of traffic and it just never slows down," Doerr said.

For several years, homeowners have asked the city for increased enforcement.

Members of the Fairlawn Heights Association said they have been told about studies, but they are no longer willing to wait for something to happen. They have decided to take matters into their own hands.

About 150 residents have requested yard signs demanding that drivers obey the speed limit.
The association bought the first 50 of the signs.

"We hit a nerve in this neighborhood and the stories we have heard from individuals of close calls, of being rear ended as they are trying to turn into their driveways. We have heard story after story after story," Linda Woods said.

In addition to posting the signs, the association is using its momentum to ratchet up the pressure on the city to enhance enforcement.

"We are asking for the handheld laser radar guns because we have done research and those combined with signs that say radar enforced are very effective," Diane Geiger said.

"Don't give out warnings, give out tickets. Hit people in their pocket books and get the message out there that speeding on these streets is not going to be tolerated," Woods said.

Ward 8 Council Representative Marilyn Keith told FOX 8 News she has heard the concerns and believes that dangerous speeds are not just a problem in the Fairlawn Heights community, but throughout her ward.

Keith said a first step has been to place moving speed indicator signs in the community to, not only remind drivers of their speed, but to collect data to help show when and where drivers are most likely to be violating the limits.

In addition, she said the city has entertained bids from three companies that can provide speed detection guns, which police officers can operate manually and issue mailed tickets immediately.

One of the bids is coming from a company that has told the city it will provide the equipment at no cost, collecting a fee from the tickets that are issued.

"This company will give us the speed enforcement guns, they will pay for the manpower to man them and they will also represent us, so to me this is a no-brainer because there is no money out of the city pockets to institute this," Keith told FOX 8 News.

"I'm elated that this community has come together first as an association and they are not only saying this is wrong, but they are coming together in ways that builds community," Keith said.

Members of the homeowners association said they believe Keith is listening and they are happy with her commitment to help, but they are not willing to wait for city hall to try to slow traffic down.

"It's up to the residents now. I think to show the city of Akron that yes we are very concerned about our traffic problem and we would like them to implement a reasonable solution to correct it," Donna Ross said.

The association said more than 300 people from the 1,000 homes in the community have already signed a petition to try and help enforce their message to the city.

They are encouraging residents to attend a Sept. 17 council meeting to make sure their concerns are heard.

"We are not asking for unrealistic endeavors by the city, but to do something," Woods said.