Michael Shirk has a message for anyone travelling along Willow Glen Road: please slow down.
The Morgantown resident said the problem with motorists ignoring the posted speed limit of 20 miles per hour on his street has gotten worse and worse in recent years. It has gotten to the point where he no longer allows his 9-year-old daughter to ride her bike outside their home.
“I got one of those handheld radar guns, and I’ve clocked people doing 40, 45, 50, 55, and even once or twice, 60,” he said.
Shirk realizes, however, that half the battle is changing attitudes.
“It’s almost like trying to legislate common sense and courtesy,” he said. What can be done about it is the “million dollar question,” he added.
Shirk’s father, Alan, of Wyomissing, said he doesn’t think enough is being done about the problem. He would like to see a stronger police presence on the street.
“If they ran a speed trap there 24/7, they’d make enough money to run the police department,” he said.
It’s not that simple, though, according to Caernarvon Police Chief Paul Stolz. In a small township like Caernarvon, there simply isn’t enough manpower on the police force to post officers on one street constantly.
The township already runs speed traps on Willow Glen and he has even taken that duty himself, Stolz added, but if a call comes in when an officer is stationed there, the officer has to respond.
“Over the last year or so, we’ve had over 200 speeding violations,” he said. “It’s not a matter that we don’t do it, but we have over nine square miles of land to cover in the township.”
Additionally, motorists are starting to learn where officers must sit to run speed traps.
Township officials read a letter from Alan Shirk at the last township meeting, and informed Stolz of the complaint. So Stolz reached out to the “Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25” national campaign and ordered new, flashier street signs to post along Willow Glen Road and other problematic areas to spread awareness and warn drivers.
Part of the problem on Willow Glen Road is that it’s a throughway connecting Routes 10 and 23. It’s also a mixed zoning road – there are residences along it but it’s also the access route for the Morgan Truck Body manufacturing plant. And being a turnpike interchange community, Morgantown gets more traffic than other small towns.
“Am I ever going to be able to stop it completely? No. Unfortunately people think it is socially acceptable,” Stolz said. “But it has been addressed.”
For his part, Mike Shirk is hoping the signs will help, and is thinking about organizing a collection among his neighbors for others like the ones he’s seen in Churchtown. Those signs read “Drive like your kids lived here,” a message Shirk thought was a powerful one.
“It’s one of those things where people won’t do anything about it until someone gets hurt,” he said. “Hopefully that doesn’t happen.”
This story was previously published with an error. Caernarvon Police Chief Paul Stolz was erroneously quoted as saying that the police cover 90 square miles in the township. The correct number is nine square miles. We apologize to Chief Stolz and our readers for this error.