Northland News

Sharon Woods neighborhood

Resident tries quiet approach to slow traffic

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Don Schneider sits outside his Skewae Drive home with a homemade speed limit sign Aug. 7. Schenider made the sign to remind motorists to drive the speed limit in the residential Northland neighborhood. He said his quiet efforts to get drivers to slow down are working.

When yet another angry motorist threatened to beat up Charlotte Schneider's 72-year-old husband for shouting at passing vehicles to slow down on their Sharon Woods street, she asked him to please stop before he got hurt.

"I said, 'OK, I promise I won't do it any more,' " Donnell E. "Don" Schneider said recently. "It's just people who don't care about anything but themselves."

He did not, however, vow to stop trying to influence lead-footed drivers; he just takes a kinder, gentler approach these days.

That's because he does care.

"I not only care about the neighbors but the neighborhood, and by that I mean the properties in the area," Schneider said. "If we don't take care of it, who's going to do it?"

After Charlotte Schneider more or less put her foot down, Don Schneider said he spoke with members of the civic association, including Trustee Pat Wood, about the problem of speeders on residential streets in the subdivision -- an issue only exacerbated by the reconstruction project on nearby Karl Road.

"Any neighborhood, everybody always drives too fast anyway," said Wood, who is also the Sharon Woods Block Watch coordinator.

Wood suggested perhaps some residents should create signs and stand at various key locations throughout Sharon Woods. The resulting signs advised drivers that the speed limit is 25 miles an hour and thanked them for obeying the law.

"It was time we kind of took action into our own hands," Wood said, theorizing that a police officer handing out a few tickets wouldn't do as much good as neighbors showing their concern for one another and the children of Sharon Woods.

"It's my neighborhood," Wood said. "I care. That's the way I look at it. Why shouldn't we express that we care? I'd rather have the police be taking care of drug dealers or something."

Schneider saw something of a flaw: The signs were too small to be read by anyone driving too fast.

So the man nicknamed "The Mayor of Skywae Drive" by a neighbor for his practice of often sitting in his front yard and greeting passersby, went to a nearby FedEx Kinko's and got a sign that measures roughly four feet by three feet.

On the top it says "Speed Limit," with the number 25 underneath in a larger font. Below that it says, "Thank You."

"I thought, "I can do this by myself.' We're not trying to aggravate anybody," he said recently. "We want to say thanks for going the speed limit."

He sits in a chair on his front lawn several times a day, whenever the sun's not too hot -- even though Charlotte is concerned about skin cancer -- and when he feels his gentle chiding might do some good.

It's been working, too, according to Schneider.

"So many people have stopped and said thank you," he said. "Even some people who were going too fast. A lady stopped the other day and she said, 'Thank you,' and I said what for? She said, 'I really appreciate it. Maybe it'll get me straightened out. I come down here way too fast.' "

Of course, some drivers keep on going, not even slowing down.

"There are just people like that in the world," Schneider said philosophically.

"He's gotten to meet a lot of people," Wood said.

"I smile at people as they go by," Schneider added.