Sunday, February 8, 2009

Woodlands Traffic Issue - speed and safety of children in Indian Springs

Last year I was noting a child on his bicycle, heading for school on a route to McCullough Junior High. Like all kids, he found himself a shortcut. It would take him through a maze of local streets with a maximum speed limit of 30, sometimes 25 MPH until he reached a major street. These are strict speed limits in the neighborhoods. Most of us, especially with children, expect people to observe these speed limits! In neighborhoods, we should all demand strict enforcement of speed for the protection of our children. The default is 25 unless posted otherwise. We even have one local street here posted at 25 to re-enforce the notion that children are about on the streets.

This is not about children playing in the streets however. It is about a child riding his bicycle to school here in The Woodlands. Someone will say, just take the bus. Well, that sounds good to us old fogies who have forgotten what it is like to be a member of the band, the baseball team, the dance team or whatever after school event the child needs to attend to develop social skills, broaden his horizons and generally get an extended education. The bicycle is a terrific alternative to busing and walking to school, while providing the flexibility to be where one needs to be and when he needs to be there. It is also a learning experience in itself.

This young man would cross Reedy Pond, then Gosling, to take the pathway provided by The Woodlands to McCullough. Now here's the issue. Montgomery County recently approved a speed of 45MPH along this stretch of Gosling. Why? To tell you the truth, I have no idea! Between Woodlands Parkway and Flintridge, we have a post office, an entrance to a gasoline station, an intersection with a commercial road, a park, and an entrance to an apartment complex. Did the message get to the residents in the area of Rush Haven beforehand in a court hearing on the proposal to raise the speed limit? If a court hearing occurred, how was that announcement delivered to the residents here? So from the traffic light at Woodlands Parkway to the traffic light at Flintridge, the limit was changed from 35 to 45. Then on the other side of Flintridge it is reduced to 35 where the traffic is more free flowing. There is absolutely no logic to this.

Now getting back to the child. Did one single person ask about the movement of people in the village? There is not one public school in Indian Springs, no! Not one! Any child who needs to go to school must be transported by car or bus, because he has to cross highways here. I have not seen him lately. I believe he is now attending the ninth grade campus. Despite the change of the one child's needs, this general requirement has got me concerned. My child crosses Gosling to buy a coke a the gas station. He has in the past also crossed Gosling to attend McCullough. He sometimes goes to Panther Creek Shopping Center and has to cross a right turn lane at Woodlands Parkway just to press the Woodlands Parkway pedestrian button, asking for a green pedestrian light across 5 additional lanes (four cross lanes and one right turn lane). Is that little much to ask of him? He has to get a drivers license and soon!

Let's take a look at what speeds traffic moves when we have a 45MPH speed limit. Cars move at 55! Drivers know that they can cruise at 10 MPH over the speed limit. That is a highway!!! So we ask our children to cross high speed highways in this master planned community? This section of road should be 35MPH at most with a pedestrian or bicycle crossing. I could also make a case for a slower speed just north of Woodlands Parkway. This is not the only place where we need to improve safety for our children.

This opens what seems to be an overlooked part of our community. I should know; I was hit on my bicycle one time when I was crossing Flintridge at Gosling. And we expect our children to be safe even we cannot guarantee our own safety?

1 comment:

BigTexN said...

I can appreciate being upset with the increase of the speed limit from 35 to 45...but, could we PLEASE do something about the excessive traffic so that we could at least be able to go 35mph?

They could raise the speed limit to 100mph but there's so much traffic that it takes 30-40 minutes during rush hour just to get from the highway to Gosling on Woodlands Pkwy! That's a 5-10mph pace for that 4 mile stretch!

I'll take going 35mph if I actually could go 35mph!