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"You wanted enforcement, here it is"
"It would be hard to miss: Loud calls for better traffic control and tougher enforcement have come from around the island over the past year.Even in today's Letters column, south-end parents and a Winslow-area resident, faced with the proliferation of vehicles traveling at speed on their neighborhood roadways, weigh in with the oft-repeated concerns for the safety of children, pedestrians and other motorists.Now, with the designation of Bainbridge Police Officer Rob Corn as the department's full-time traffic officer (reported elsewhere in this issue), tougher enforcement is here.It remains to be seen how island drivers respond - with a lighter foot on the pedal (perhaps even some gratitude for an attempt to make the streets safer), or with howls of protest from those who find their wallets or pocketbooks lightened by the city.We suspect we'll get some of both, but that most islanders will welcome the new push for slower speeds. It's not like the issue hasn't been in the public consciousness - in fact, looking back over the past year's issues of the Review, road and pedestrian safety have dominated the news. Last summer, for example, we reported on Grow Avenue neighbors (amongst them, Corn's father) who borrowed a radar device to monitor drivers on their street; police, meanwhile, were charting citizen complaints to identify 62 problems areas said to have chronic speeders.At that time, we reported on the number of traffic citations that were being issued. Department records showed that from Jan. 2 through June 14 of last year, Bainbridge Police officers issued 924 traffic citations, about 170 per month. About 50 percent - 461 citations - were written for speeding violations.That's about about 2.5 speeding tickets per day over a six-month period.After spending a few hours on the road with Officer Rob Corn this week - a blustery Monday morning, when overall traffic seemed tempered somewhat by the poor conditions - we are convinced that those numbers are going to increase sharply. The overwhelming majority of drivers were traveling over the posted limit, even if it was within the nebulous 10-15 mph cushion that doesn't usually attract attention.The range of traffic stops we did witness - from blatant speed offenses to improperly registered vehicles - suggests that too few people are paying heed to posted limits and other regulations. The drivers covered all age and gender demographics - blue-collar workers hurrying to their jobs; soccer mom-type parents returning home after dropping their kids off at school; women in middle age; a high school kid. We suspect the problem is as much a function of conditioning as intent. With relatively few officers on island roads, motorists have been able to flout the law because they haven't been forced to think about it.That's about to change. Islanders called for better enforcement, and beginning this week, they're getting it.Now, can we all slow down a bit? "