Grandview Heights' Traffic Advisory Group has been stuck in neutral over the past year, but the group has shifted into high gear as the city begins to expand its consideration of traffic issues to include all forms of mobility.

The group -- formed in 2015 to keep an eye on the city's transportation-related issues and respond to residents' complaints -- has been "a bit dormant" recently but has begun to meet again on a regular basis, said Darryl Hughes, the city's director of service.

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Nine residents serve on the committee, as do Hughes, Mayor Ray DeGraw, director of administration and economic development Patrik Bowman, council members Emily Keeler and Greta Kearns and traffic engineer Joe Ridgeway.

The residents serving on the group are Teri Alexander, Sandra Binning, Emily Gephart, Courtney Miller, Kelly Mosser, Melanie Mueller, Dave Pritchard, Frances Rourke and Dave Samuelson.

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Rourke also serves on the city's planning commission.

One of the group's main tasks is to serve as a "sounding board" for issues relating to traffic and mobility raised by residents or city officials, Hughes said.

The group met in April and again in June.

"We're looking at meeting on a quarterly basis," Hughes said.

Perception of speed

A common concern raised by residents is their perception that motorists are speeding down their street, DeGraw said.

The city began conducting a series of projects in 2015 to monitor the volume and speed of vehicles on streets throughout the city, he said.

"We wanted real-time data that would accurately show if there is a problem with speeding and, if so, where," DeGraw said.

Residents might believe cars are traveling faster on their street than they actually are, he said.

"When you're standing still in your yard or driveway, it's hard to really tell how fast they are moving," DeGraw said.

The most recent data comes from 2015 and 2016, Hughes said.

Since then, the city has continued to collect data each year on various roads, but it's still being compiled, he said.

In 2017, monitoring occurred on Grandview and Broadview avenues from the Columbus border to First Avenue.

Last year, the city's measures of vehicular volume and speed included Lincoln Road, Broadview Avenue, Northwest Boulevard and Goodale Boulevard near the Grandview Yard development.

In most cases, the data has shown that speeding is not generally a problem on roadways, Hughes said.

"I was a little surprised by what we found on Lincoln," he said. "We thought that may be an area where there was a problem with speeding."

The most recent data available for Lincoln measured traffic volume and speed along the roadway in late April and early May 2015, Hughes said.

Traffic heading both north and south was measured on Lincoln between First and Third avenues and First and Bluff avenues.

A total of 7,526 vehicles traveled the roadway during the period, and the average speed both northbound and southbound in each section of Lincoln was 26 mph -- just 1 mph over the speed limit, Hughes said.

One roadway where the data indicated speeding was an issue was Broadview Avenue, he said.

"You've got the wide roadway and the hill going down Broadview from First Avenue, and it can be a little bit of a speedway there," Hughes said.

Over five days in July 2015, 2,798 vehicles were driven southbound from First to Goodale with an average speed of 34 mph on the 25-mph road.

The city placed a speed-monitoring device a few months ago on southbound Broadview to warn motorists of their speed, Hughes said.

"It seems to be helping," he said. "I don't think most people are purposely speeding. If they see they're traveling over the speed limit, they'll usually slow down."

Avenue concerns

A speed-monitoring device also was installed on northbound Grandview Avenue approaching First Avenue.

Residents who live on Grandview Avenue between First Avenue and Goodale Boulevard expressed concern in September 2018 that their street was seeing an increase in both the volume and speed of traffic.

One issue is that the speed limit on Grandview Avenue varies, said Teri Alexander, who has lived at the corner of Grandview and Inglis Road for more than three decades.

It's set at 25 mph between First Avenue and the top of the hill near the entrance to the Municipal Building and fire station and then changes to 35 mph from there to the intersection at Goodale, she said.

"We were just seeing a lot of cars that either wouldn't adjust their speed or didn't realize there was a slower speed limit" near First Avenue, Alexander said.

The speed-monitoring device has helped some, she said.

Alexander agreed with Hughes that most motorists will slow down when they realize they are speeding.

But depending on the timing of when they approach the sign, drivers could see the "slow down" message before their speed limit is posted, she said.

"People may go past the sign without knowing how fast they're driving," Alexander said.

"The sign should post the speed limit first before telling them to slow down."

She and her neighbors have other concerns about Grandview Avenue, she said.

"One of our neighbors suggested there should be a crosswalk placed on Grandview Avenue somewhere between First and Goodale," Alexander said.

'We have a lot of children and adults who want to cross the road, and it's not convenient to walk all the way to the intersections with First or Goodale so you can use the crosswalk," she said.

Alexander said she and her neighbors see many people who cross Grandview Avenue outside the crosswalks -- a potentially dangerous action.

"It's really concerning when it's a child who is crossing," she said.

Taking action

The city's 2019 street program includes a project to widen the sidewalk along the east side of Grandview Avenue between the Municipal Building and Goodale, DeGraw said.

"It's an area that sees a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists and we want to make sure the sidewalk is wide enough so that both groups can use the sidewalk safely," he said.

The sidewalk is well-used as residents head toward the Grandview Center, Wyman Woods and Buck parks and the municipal pool, all of which are on Goodale, DeGraw said.

The intersection of First and Grandview avenues also is an area of concern, he said.

"You have a lot of people crossing that intersection by foot or on their bikes, and it's where a lot of kids cross going to and from school," DeGraw said, referring to Stevenson Elementary School on First Avenue or Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School on Oakland Avenue.

Courts clerk Linda Wheeler coordinates the city's school crossing-guard program and serves as the guard at First and Grandview.

Nearly every day, Wheeler said, she observes motorists who ignore the no-turn-on-red sign at the intersection or who run red lights.

It occurs even as she prepares to accompany children through the intersection, she said.

"It makes me a little nervous," Wheeler said. "I think some of the people are in a hurry to get to work, and you'll see people who seem to be looking at their cellphone as they drive through the intersection."

Alexander said she also has noticed that motorists make right turns, both onto southbound Grandview Avenue from First and onto eastbound First from Grandview.

"I wonder if there could be some way to add flashing lights to the no-turn signs so that they get people's attention," she said.

DeGraw said the city is monitoring the intersection and considering potential improvements. One possibility is to add curb extensions, or bumpouts, that jut into the intersection to help calm traffic and reduce the time it takes for pedestrians to cross the street, he said.

Not just cars anymore

When DeGraw asked Alexander to join the Traffic Advisory Group earlier this year, she accepted his offer.

"I'm hoping I can have some influence on the committee, or at least help bring some more attention to some of the issues we're concerned about on Grandview Avenue," she said.

The Traffic Advisory Group membership has shifted a bit, with some former members moving out of the community or dropping out of the group and other residents being added, DeGraw said.

"We want the group to be representative of the entire community and have all areas represented," he said.

"It remains an active group," DeGraw said. "It's one of the three important advisory groups we have in the city," along with the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The focus of the group is evolving, DeGraw said.

"It's no longer enough to just look at 'traffic' issues," he said. "As a city, we have to start looking at bikes; we have to start looking at pedestrians; we have to start looking at scooters and all the modes people use to get around."

The increased use of Uber and Lyft and other transportation services might require thinking about providing designated parking spaces for those vehicles, DeGraw said.

"We'd have to think about how that would impact parking in our community," he said.

Self-driving cars might become another issue before too long, DeGraw said.

"We have to make sure that people who are using all these different forms of mobility are able to safely get around our community and share our roads and sidewalks with each other," he said.

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