Cyclist's Death May Be Leading to Improvement on City Streets

Many of you may remember the death of Michael Sonney, killed by a hit and run driver while riding on Snouffer Road. His death and an increase in crashes of all types on Snouffer has led Joe Macomber, a 20 year resident of the area in question, to ask for a reduction in the speed limit on Snouffer.

More on this from NBC 4's website:
Residents Ask For Changes Along Dangerous Road
Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 - 09:35 AM Updated: 09:55 AM
By Denise Yost

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A teenager was hit and killed while walking along a local road last week. But a hit-and-run crash in north Columbus has another neighborhood asking for something different on their street.

Michael Sonney, 19, was killed in July on Snouffer Road while riding his bicycle, NBC 4's Mike Jackson reported.

Residents in the area of Snouffer Road, marked with apartments and single-family homes, said the traffic regulations of the area have not kept pace with the population growth.

Records show several accidents reported in recent years along the road.

Joe Macomber has lived near Snouffer Road for nearly 20 years and said he has seen multiple crashes. But he is bringing the issue to city officials, asking for a change that hardly costs anything.

"I've mentioned again on several occasions that all I was asking for is a reduction in the posted speed limit to make it safer for myself and my neighbors as we're working in our backyards to make sure we continue to stay safe," Macomber said.

The speed limit east of the railroad tracks is 35 mph. West of the railroad tracks, the posted speed limit is 45 mph.

As a member of the Far Northwest Coalition, Macomber has gathered a stack of correspondence with city officials. Each time, he has been told his request has been passed on to the transportation department.

Macomber said he knows that sidewalks are expensive, but they would be a welcomed change as well.

Operation Sidewalk is a city program that is spending $50 million to install sidewalks -- mostly near schools.

Some nice ideas. Reducing the speed limit on Snouffer, in fact, almost ALL roads in Columbus, would be a welcome change.

A couple of notes I'd like to make, and one of them will probably make you roll your eyes a bit.

First, the eye roller: reducing the speed limit on Snouffer or any road makes no difference if the police aren't going to enforce it. As we see all over town, that's not a priority.

Second, putting sidewalks up is a great idea - for pedestrians. And I'm not trying to reduce the importance of pedestrian safety, obviously. But it's not going to help cyclists in the least, since the city traffic code rightly says it's illegal for cyclists to operate on the sidewalk! A bike lane would be good, but the key thing is actual enforcement of the existing law. To combine this with a reduction in the speed limit would be good, too.

I used to live on Schrock Road, near Westerville, and I used to take Snouffer across to Dublin where I worked when the construction was underway on I-270 (in my pre-bicycle days). That road is frequently used by folks who wish to avoid the expressway, and therefore gets a lot of speedy commuter traffic. There's going to have to be more controls put on that road to make it safe for everyone.

But still, major kudos to Mr. Macomber for trying to get the city to address the problem here.

People, not speed.


  1. Jamie,
    Thanks for this bit of news. I'll carry this to the Transportation & Pedestrian, it is us, that will hear the speed limit reduction plea when it surfaces.

    Interestingly, at our last meeting, we approved a speed limit reduction for a similar street in south COlumbus that met the warrents...only after the streets had been re-engineered with sidewalks. Backwards ass logic...but, that's how it happens sometimes (legally).

    It's situations like Snouffer...that make it important to advocate for a Complete Streets policy here in COlumbus. That train is on the tracks....we just gotta raise our collective voices. See my announcement of first COuncil briefing on Nov 29th in the COnsider Biking Forum.

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I wish we could get a complete list of where all the bike/car accidents, fatal and otherwise, happen in Columbus. But most of them probably go unreported, so it'd never be a complete list. Still, it'd be very telling and useful for the T&P Commission, I think.

    I saw your post on CB, thanks for posting there as much as you do!

    I'd be interested to hear what the commission would say about the need for more comprehensive enforcment of traffic laws - including lack of turn signal use, rolling stops, speeding of ANY kind, etc. We've gotten so used to the idea that faster, uninterrupted automobile travel is the ideal that safety-motivated regulation and enforcement seems to be a second thought.


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