By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Sea Bright residents want to take back their streets from speeders, bike racers and parking-space-hogging tourists.
Last night, the borough council advanced a plan to convince the state Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on a stretch of Ocean Avenue, a state road, from 40 to 35 mile per hour. And additional laws to regulate parking and bicycle races are being drafted.
“Raising the speed limit will only add a minute to your driving time,” said Councilwoman Dina Long, who chairs the police committee. And residents are clamoring for it, she said though some of them rather crudely.
“We received 37 letters from an anonymous letter-writing campaign right before the election,” Long told redbankgreen after the meeting. “They were form letters, so we dont know who they were from.” Some were signed and were “complimentary of the police,” while many of the unsigned missives made “nasty” complaints about lax police enforcement of the speed limits, Long said.
Although a recent police study found the average speed of cars on Ocean Avenue to be 37.6 mph, below the legal limit, the speeders make life unpleasant for many residents, Long said.
“It’s the number-one quality of life complaint in town,” said Long. Speeding trucks cause houses to vibrate, and many residents have difficulty crossing Ocean Avenue because of cars flying by, she said.
The study, which used newly purchased police department equipment, found that while only .2 percent of the 29,000 cars counted using Ocean Avenue north of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge were speeding, “when you do the math, its still about 800 cars,” said Long. ” Theres no way this issue is solved or resolved”.
A permit parking program is being instituted to allow residents to park on their streets, especially during the summer months, when beachgoers take up spaces on the side streets now designated for open parking. The permit parking will affect one side of each of the 15 or so streets in the borough, Long said.
Bicycle racing guidelines are also being drawn up, Long said. Although she said she sympathizes with the causes that many of the bike races are supporting, the police chief and Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams have agreed that allowing bicycle racers to come through en masse is too dangerous.
The police recently denied a permit to Monmouth County for its annual Sprint Triathlon to use southbound Ocean Avenue on its return leg from Sandy Hook to Long Branch.
Long said a compromise may be possible if the county changes the route to go only northbound through town. “We’d like to allow that kind of traffic going north, but not south, because of the driveways and side streets on the south side of Ocean Avenue,” she explained. Residents complained they couldn’t get out of their driveways during the most recent race in September, she added.
Both the racing measure and the permit parking ordinance are in attorney review and are expected to be discussed further at the councils Dec. 4th meeting.