Or do my wife and I
simply need to face the fact
that with age comes the
belief that the world around
us is simply going faster?
"Jesus, can't you guys just enjoy the fire?"
With those words, courtesy of our oldest son on a beautiful late Friday afternoon last week, I officially realized that I'm old. Well, certainly not elderly-level old when my kids are wondering what to do with their frail, shaky old man, but at least closer to the end of my life than the beginning.
He was home from college visiting for the weekend. We ventured to the backyard to soak up some sunshine and soon found ourselves picking up sticks and branches that had blown down from our trees earlier in the week. We tossed them in our fire ring and without having to speak any words, the Christopherson men went into pyromaniac mode. Resistance is futile. It has been for generations. We burn at every opportunity. We crumpled up some newspapers, we ripped apart a cardboard box, we grabbed a couple of logs from the wood pile and some birch bark, and our son went into the house to get some matches.
An hour or so later, the fire was burning warm and bright and crackling, the sun was still shining in a brilliant blew sky, there was a gentle fall breeze, the birds were chirping at our feeders in the trees, our favorite songs were emanating from our Bluetooth speaker nearby...and my wife and I were missing out on most of the moment as we stood in frustration with hands on hips, staring at University Avenue up the hill and ranting and raving about all the speeding drivers racing by.
It was around this time that our son chimed in by telling us we were missing out on a pretty sweet scene.
Do you have to be an old curmudgeon to think too many drivers drive too fast? Do you have to have one foot in the grave before you can get all cranky when you see all of these lead-foots flying all over the place with none of them seemingly getting pulled over by the police for their bald-faced disregard for the law?
The speed limit on University near our house goes from 45 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour, but the percentage of drivers who are going 30 mph or even 35 mph as they go by our house, in my humble estimation, is 10%, at best. As my wife and I preoccupied ourselves with vehicle velocity near our bonfire, numerous vehicles were without a doubt traveling in excess of 40 mph as they passed our house. A semi fuel tanker, no lie, was traveling in the neighborhood of 50 mph.
Sure, when you're standing still and vehicles go by you, your eyes and brain process the information and you think the vehicles are going fast, too fast. It's like City Public Works Director Pat Kelly said when some Walsh Street residents earlier this year complained about speeding on their street. If you're standing still on your boulevard in a residential neighborhood and a vehicle comes by traveling at the 30 mph speed limit, Kelly said, it's going to seem like it's drag racing even when it's not.
But when you're driving 30 miles per hour on University Avenue or West Sixth Street heading toward downtown or away from it - as I do numerous times each day - and other drivers are blowing by you like you're not even there, there's no explaining away the fact that people are blatantly disregarding the posted speed limit, and 99.9% of the time there's no police officer on patrol within sight to pull them over.
The Crookston Police Department's speed trailer works, it gets motorists to slow down. The proof is in the data CPD Chief Paul Biermaier reports when the trailer is moved from one notorious speeding zone in the community to the next. Drivers approach the digital sign, it flashes their particular egregious warp speed, and they hit the brakes. As a result, Biermaier’s data shows that, typically, more than 75% of drivers when they pass the speed trailer are traveling at 35 mph or less.
But, it’s not like a dozen speed trailers can be purchased and placed at locations all over town. Plus, drivers would grow accustomed to them, and if they’re 99% sure there isn’t an officer in the vicinity to pull them over, there’s no real fear factor.
We’re not imagining this. Speeding is an epidemic in this community. If the CPD parked a patrol officer on Sunset Avenue every day, he’d do nothing during his entire shift but pull over speeders, one after the other.
What’s your rush, people? Unless you’re hustling home to enjoy a beautiful backyard fire with your family, you have no excuse.