Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stop your speeding on campus, U of M warns

Drivers have been clocked at up to 67 km/h in a 30 zone, say officials

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U of M Special Const. Trish Porter tracks vehicle speeds on a digital board linked to a radar unit borrowed from MPI.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

U of M Special Const. Trish Porter tracks vehicle speeds on a digital board linked to a radar unit borrowed from MPI. Photo Store

Whoa there, dude, slow down -- don't you know the University of Manitoba campus is a 30- km/h school zone?

Apparently drivers either don't know or don't care, since more than half of them nailed on radar this summer drive at least 11 km/h over the posted speed limit on campus. The university has clocked drivers at up to 67 km/h in a 30 zone.

Seriously.

"That's way more than I thought being over, some way over," said John Burchill, the U of M's risk-management associate.

Since security services borrowed a radar unit from MPI last month that shows speeds of approaching vehicles on a digital board, and set it up nine times for an hour or so in different spots, the average speed of 1,304 vehicles was 39 km/h, with 51 per cent averaging 41 km/h or more.

As for how many drive 30 or less, "Not many," lamented Burchill. "There's a good chunk between 30 and 40."

The unit was out again Tuesday morning, this time at the back of the campus on Saunderson Street between the B parking lot and the agricultural fields. Not one vehicle coming around the corner from Dysart Road and heading south on Saunderson during a 15-minute period was doing less than 36 km/h when the radar first picked it up.

U of M Special Const. Trish Porter had already seen one vehicle doing 58 on that short stretch Tuesday morning. One grey SUV gunned it to 47 while the Free Press was lurking.

That SUV driver hit the brakes to slow down to 21 when the driver spotted Porter in her uniform.

The young guy in the little red car late Tuesday morning who was driving while talking on his cellphone was going the other way -- his speed wasn't tracked in that direction, though 40-plus would be a good guess.

It might be a deterrent to tell you U of M has photo radar and issues tickets. Alas, Porter jots down the speed of each vehicle on her clipboard, and the board just tells drivers their speed.

No tickets.

"We need to educate our entire community that the speed limit is 30," said Burchill.

He said Freedman, Sifton and Dysart are by far the worst internal roads for speeding. Chancellor Drive and University Crescent are city streets, with much higher limits, he pointed out.

The U of M isn't checking whether the speeders sport parking passes.

"Lots of Fort Richmond residents use the campus roads to cut through" as a shortcut that avoids a long stretch of Pembina Highway, Burchill said.

"There's a lot of straight-ahead roads" that are 30 km/h, yet drivers can't stay off the accelerator, he said.

A few months back, there was the middle-of-the-night truck on Chancellor that didn't stop for the lights at the start of the 30 zone: "Somebody gunned it all the way down Chancellor Matheson, and rode the stairs, took out the abutments," said Burchill.

Sure, the vast majority of people on campus are adults, he acknowledged. But there are two daycare centres, hordes of kids at summertime Mini-U, and children in the gyms and pool every weekend.

Regardless of age, people expect to be able to walk around campus without dodging Smokey and the Bandit traffic.

So far, the U of M is not asking city police to set up their own radar on campus and issue tickets.

The university will continue to track vehicle speed when regular classes resume next month.

And before you ask, no, none of the speeders was tracked during stadium events -- security staff are too busy to set up a radar station during football games, and most traffic is bumper-to-bumper.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2013 A6

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