Any unimpeded mile of gently curving road tempts a certain class of drivers to behave badly — to open up the accelerator and see if the car has any life in it. It's even more tempting when there's a view. Between South 21st Street and Bear Creek Road, Lower Gold Camp Road is just such a place.
Of course, there's a retirement community along the strip, the Village at Skyline. There is also a new Alzheimer's treatment center, Morning Star Memory Care, closer to 21st Street. Less than a block south on Bear Creek Road, the Bear Creek Nature Center routinely hosts children's events.
And the locals are concerned.
"Residents at the Village [at Skyline] don't have the best driving reflexes," says former vice mayor Richard Skorman, whose mother lived at Skyline. "Many are afraid to turn onto Lower Gold Camp Road when there are so many speeding cars."
Rita Ague, who has lived in the area for 10 years, says speeding here has long been a concern. It came to a head July 4, when a speeder fatally crashed into a tree after turning off Lower Gold Camp. The resulting fire could have been devastating, too — Skorman says the risk for a catastrophic fire around nearby Bear Creek Canyon is one of the region's greatest.
After the crash, Ague asked Skorman to use his connections to address the issue, so Skorman emailed City Councilman Val Snider requesting his help. Ague's neighbor Lee Burgess says they're not looking to tie up police; he and Ague say they'd like to see speed bumps put in along Lower Gold Camp.
But city transportation manager Kathleen Krager says that's not happening. She says she gets a few requests for speed bumps from various neighborhoods every year — and denies them.
Krager, who's held her post for two years, says, "Speed humps are just one form of traffic calming, and they're a form I don't particularly like. I have not used them since I've been city traffic engineer and I'm not planning to start using them."
The bumps tend to cause noise complaints, she says, as residents nearby can hear every car that passes over them; they can cause added wear to cars and damage emergency vehicles; and they don't work where roads aren't flat. Along the length in question, Lower Gold Camp is only flat in a few spots.
There are better ways to prevent speeding on residential streets, Krager says, such as narrowing roads — but that's not happening, either. Despite what residents think, Lower Gold Camp is not a residential street. It's a minor arterial road also used by non-residents en route from one place to another, she says, and so doesn't qualify for traffic calming.
The way to address speeding there, where the limit is 35 mph, is with policing, Krager says. "We need people to drive the speed limit just because they're supposed to. If they don't, they should get a ticket."
Springs Police Public Information Officer Lt. Catherine Buckley says its motor division addresses neighborhood complaints. She also says police can put up a speed trailer, if a resident will provide a power outlet. If requested, local patrol divisions can also do traffic enforcement.
Ague and her neighbors have been working with the Gold Hill patrol division, and she says increased police presence has helped. She's been seeing fewer speeders. But she and her neighbors still want a long-term solution.
"We just don't have near enough coverage," she says. "The cops are overloaded. They can't just come and sit here."