Please Slow Down!
Dear Case Western Reserve University Chief of Police Hodge,
With the school year back in progress, I want to thank you for the increased police presence in our area of Little Italy around the intersections of Cornell, Murray Hill and Edgehill Roads. My wife and I have lived on Edgehill Rd. just up the hill from that intersection for the last eight years and have seen a disturbing increase in traffic violations in the area in that time, so your increased patrols and the writing of traffic tickets which we have witnessed is greatly appreciated.
We believe it is critical that you are policing that route into the CWRU campus, because we have also observed significant changes in its use since we moved there. The route down Edgehill to Cornell has literally become a higher speed automobile commuter alternative to Cedar Hill and Mayfield, while the volume of pedestrian, bicycle, skateboard and scooter use has increased dramatically. I think it’s fair to say that CWRU students are at greater risk because of the increased vehicular traffic and many incidents of speeding and other traffic violations we and our neighbors observe.
The speed limit on Edgehill is 25 mph. It is rarely observed, and I have used a phone application called “SpeedRadarGun” to verify my impressions. What I see on the application is routine speeds around 40 miles per hour and occasional speeds as high as 50, both up and down the hill, all day long and especially at rush hour. Of more concern is the number of “Near Misses” we see; i.e. the number of near accidents that typically involve bicycles, scooters and pedestrians.
Two recent examples this week are instructive: one being a speeding car coming down the hill passing another car on the double yellow in traffic just before the curve at the bottom of the hill and narrowly missing a bike rider on the right hand roadside when they both got to the curve. Another was a speeding car passing a bike going over the double yellow as the bike was in the right hand car lane as parked cars filled the curb. The biker was towing an infant carriage behind it.
I know very little about policing or traffic violations, but I do know something about safety after 40 years in the hazardous waste management industry and having safety as one of my core job responsibilities. Near Misses are an important statistic that must be tracked and understood closely to prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities.
The Near Misses my wife and I see on Edgehill, at the Murray Hill/Cornell/Edgehill intersection and in Little Italy generally are of great concern to me. My wife and I walk the area quite a bit, on average maybe an hour to two hours a day in good weather, and usually during morning rush hour. My wife recently showed surprise and chagrin at a driver who blew threw a red light at that intersection, who then belligerently flipped her off. That seems terribly emblematic of some of the drivers in our neighborhood.
We witness at least 1 serious Near Miss daily: occurrences where an accident that could cause injury was nearly missed, and this is in addition to several (5 or more) incidences of serious traffic and parking violations: speeding, passing on double yellow, crashing stop lights and stop signs, parking on the sidewalk and ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. The crosswalk dangers are particularly bad at the intersection I mentioned above and all along Mayfield Road.
These are situations we witness serendipitously, meaning we just happen to be there. What this means statistically in safety terms is that there are likely dozens of Near Misses daily in the Little Italy neighborhood, and with that number of Near Misses I know from my experience in safety that it is only a matter of time before there will be a serious accident, injury or fatality, given the physical forces of the automobiles involved.
I don’t know what the data shows for accidents in our area, but I do know that when the data is not showing serious accidents, a question to ask is: are we good at preventing accidents or are we just lucky? Our observations of Near Misses suggest we have been exceedingly lucky in Little Italy.
The situation is compounded by the extremely congested illegal parking situation in Little Italy and the many construction situations where contractors are blocking sidewalks and parking areas along the street. Also, Murray Hill is a brick road as you know and the surface at the subject intersection is particularly uneven and bumpy, which must make the possibility of an accident more severe.
With the exception of your police patrols, we see little of the Cleveland Police and our understanding is that University Circle Inc. police do not cover the area up around our house. Recently we did see parking tickets being issued by the Cleveland Police for a few days and a squad car on Edgehill for a few hours, and that was a wonderful thing indeed. We would love to see a lot more of that!
Our concern is that police presence must have a bearing on lawless behavior. If we condone traffic violations, does that lead to something more serious? That is a concern, and we have had our share of violent crime in the area, including muggings and robberies at gunpoint. We know from living in Cleveland Heights for over 40 years that traffic and parking violations were vigorously enforced and it certainly made us feel safer.
In sum, my wife and I believe the Little Italy neighborhood’s traffic situation is a real challenge and dangerous, and your presence here for your students and the neighborhood’s residents is very important. Please feel free to use our driveway any time you would like to catch speeders on Edgehill. We will be happy to provide the coffee.
Thank you so much for doing what you do, and we would dearly love to see more of it!
Take care, stay safe, stay healthy!