Local government, which once seemed immune to the vagaries of economics gone sour, has begun to feel the pinch as well. With the collapse of real estate values has come property tax shortfalls that have led many such governments to worry about their ability to function financially as they had before. And those once reliable taxpayers, hard pressed in these difficult times, have suddenly become much more difficult to deal with as well. Something that has forced many city governments to look elsewhere in order to make up for their shrinking money take.
And, as most any driver in Sierra Madre will tell you, one of those places they appear to have gone looking is traffic tickets. You hear the stories everywhere.
I don't want to overstate this, but it has become quite hostile out there for the American driver. And the many road warriors among us have begun to wonder just exactly how they can fight back. And now there is a way. It is a website that goes by the name of The National Speed Trap Exchange, run by an outfit that calls itself the National Motorists Association.
This is how the NMA describes their mission:
The main premise of the National Motorists Association is that if motorists will join together in one organization to represent their rights and interests as drivers, they will no longer be ignored and exploited by federal, state and local governments.
I do like the sound of that. For whatever the reasons personal transportation and those who use it have become a kind of lightning rod in this confusing age. Drivers are now being held responsible for many of the widely perceived evils facing mankind today. Global warming, greenhouse gases, oil spills, roadway fatalities and various other social ills have caused many fashionable urbanist leaning folks to view automobile drivers as something of an antisocial element.
And in an atmosphere as charged as this one is, does anyone in local government really give a damn about how drivers feel about traffic tickets? Apparently not. As far as they are concerned, the driver is fair game.
The unique thing about The National Speed Trap Exchange is that a lot of people contribute their hard won advice there. You can click on any of the 50 states and chances are pretty good that you will get a valuable city specific rundown on the behavior of the local traffic cops and how best to avoid them. All from the people who actually drive there. And if used properly this resource will help you to even up the odds a little.
Most San Gabriel Valley cities are listed, and those that are all have plentiful posted information from actual drivers. Sierra Madre is among those you can click on. Here is a sampling of the kinds advice being offered about our town:
Sep 23, 2010 - The Entire City of Sierra Madre, California: Sierra Madre CA is the only city in Southern CA that does not own a traffic signal. There are two on the west perimeter owned by Pasadena - at Michillinda and Orange Grove, and Michillinda and Sierra Madre Boulevard. The City DEPENDS on traffic citations for its existence, and even though the police force is small, it's rare that you will pass through the town without seeing a black and white unit. Make FULL stops at every stop sign and obey the posted speed limits. Obedience is compulsory.
Obviously written by someone who knows the place pretty well. There are also these:
Apr 26, 2010 - Sierra Madre Blvd near Youth Activity Center: Going East or West around the park and Nursery School, a patrol or motorcycle cops sits with radar getting you from either direction in AM commute times 7AM to 9AM and on the way home 5PM to 7PM. Also watch for cops sitting at all stop signs on Sierra Madre Blvd, anywhere. Trust me, they have nothing else better to do!
Feb 18, 2010 - W. Sierra Madre Blvd. at Auburn Ave: They sit at the corner of Auburn Ave., or at the side of the Prudential Bldg radaring people or waiting for someone to do a U-Turn into a parking space.
There are times that we have actually do have to leave Sierra Madre, and when that happens the chance are good that you will need to pass through Arcadia. Here are some tips from The National Speedtrap Exchange on driving down the hill:
May 18, 2010 - Huntington Drive & Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, California: So you've sped down Baldwin Ave from the 210 exit, avoiding TWO speed traps and you know you want to make a left turn once you get to Huntington Dr. Be careful, there is another trap. This trap isn't about speeding, but crossing a double yellow line to get into the left turn lane. The Motorcycle Officer will sit at the Fire Station on the left side and watch to se if your tires cross the double yellow lines. Any tire that crosses those dreaded lines will get you pulled over.
Nov 26, 2009 - Foothill Boulevard Near Baldwin Avenue: An Arcadia patrol car sits in the parking lot of the Mormon Church watching for drivers going over the posted 45MPH speed limit.
Many people have posted observations about their cities on The National Speed Trap Exchange. A resource such as this is only worthwhile if people participate.
What we would like to do here on the Tattler today is for you to post your traffic ticket experiences, and then we will use them to update the Sierra Madre page on the Speed Trap Exchange. All done anonymously, of course. Many neighboring towns have a lot more entrees there than we do (Pasadena has over 50), and we need to fix that inequity. And certainly there are things happening here that people need to know about.
Somebody out there will thank you if you do.