Charlotte officials test speed hump alternatives after concerns about fire response time

Charlotte officials test speed hump alternatives after concerns about fire response time

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Speed humps are meant to keep you safe from speeding drivers in your neighborhood, but firefighters say they can also slow down their response.

“Oh, it’s horrible. It’s horrible. You got people coming through here fast, very fast, uncontrollably fast,” Arthur Wiggins, who lives along Wembly Drive in east Charlotte, said.

His road is one of many across Charlotte that have a requested a speed hump.

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Neighbors say they're in dire need of something to slow traffic.

“You might hit a car. You might hit a child,” resident Elizabeth Pharr said.

In November, the city made it easier for people to request speed humps in their neighborhoods. Since then, the Charlotte Department of Transportation has gotten more than 200 requests to put them in.

Channel 9 learned that less than half of those requests met the criteria for speed bumps.

The criteria are pretty extensive, but some key points are it must be a two-lane road on a residential street, the speed limit should be posted at 25 mph and the street should not be a primary emergency response route.

City leaders were told on Monday night that those humps can slow emergency response times, and a new fire code requires an official to approve any traffic enforcement change.

The Charlotte Fire Department chief told Channel 9 that doesn't mean residents won't see relief in their neighborhoods.

"The CFD is on board with CDOT and on board with Vision Zero. We do believe in traffic safety, but we also need to have a balance of emergency response times,” Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said.

This summer CFD and CDOT are working together to test out speed tables and speed cushions instead of humps.

CDOT says tables have less of an impact on firetrucks, and cushions allow firetrucks to drive through the spaces but still slow a car.

"I don’t want it to interfere with the fire department destination, where they need to go, but yet, yeah, something needs to be done,” Wiggins said.

CDOT says the pilot program isn't significantly slowing down the process of getting something in neighborhoods to help with speed, and some of these different devices can be installed faster than the standard speed hump.