Editorial: Don’t honk at me! I live here!

(Photo from Unsplash)

I’ve noticed that as the City of Cullman grows, so do the unexpected consequences and problems. One of those problems is the traffic on the incredibly narrow Highway 31 and those who are choosing residential streets as their alternate route. Over the past year or so, my once peaceful street, Cleveland Avenue NW, has become Alt-31 and that’s not OK.  

When the North Cullman Shopping Center was renovated and expanded a few years ago, those of us living behind the shopping center knew it would cause a few headaches. We were already accustomed to the noise and shenanigans that were a frequent occurrence when living close to a large shopping hub, though not at this level.  

While the 5 a.m. Monday morning slamming of the dumpsters, the 2 a.m. leaf-blowing and 24-hour-a day 18-wheeler deliveries are not ideal, this was the trade-off of having the convenience of a pet store, bookstore, grocery store, nail salon and clothing stores all within walking distance. Now, I am pretty sure those living adjacent to the shopping center no longer see it as a convenience at all. As for walking, pedestrians beware! 

The other day, as I backed down my driveway, I stopped (as I always do) to check for cars. I saw one, so I waited. This knucklehead honks his horn at me–in my own driveway! Why? This guy isn’t the only one that seems inconvenienced by those of us who actually live on this street; try signaling to turn into the driveway–people flip us off, speed around us or get horn-honking happy. Are you Keanu Reeves in “Speed” or something? If you slow down, will your car explode?  

Last week, a boy, who looked to be 12 or 13, was riding his bike down the street and I thought he was going to get killed. I observed seven cars, going well above the 25 mph speed limit, fly by this poor kid as though he wasn’t even there. They didn’t even move over to pass him as he tried to show with his arm his intention of making a left turn. Finally, the eighth car stopped to allow the young man to complete his turn. Wouldn’t you know, the eighth car was a neighbor from a few houses down.  

I began counting the number of cars that I had to wait to pass before backing out of my driveway. I guess I started doing this about a year ago. The hour before and after school was understood because there are many school age children in the neighborhood. One Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., I had to wait on 19 cars to pass by. I expect that type of wait if I’m leaving Newk’s or Walmart, but not a residential street. By the way, there is a stop sign at Cleveland and Loring. If you are doing 50mph when you hit the back of Books-A-Million, it’s sort of too late to slam on your brakes. 

Several years ago, the city put up speed bumps to help slow the traffic and it worked. Hardly anyone used the street as their personal Autobahn and we no longer saw mowing the edge of our yards as an extreme sport. We could check the mail without worrying if our final affairs were in order. Now, I feel like I should kiss my kids before heading to the mailbox.  

For other families on similar residential streets being used as major thoroughfares, I see you and feel your pain. The level of disrespect shown by impatient and hurried motorists is gross, much like the fast-food bags and beer cans they often throw out on their way through.  

If you are one of the drivers who think cutting through neighborhoods will save you some time, I’d ask you to think about where you are and to be respectful of those who live and play in those areas. Quit putting your need for speed ahead of their well-being and leave the residential streets for the actual residents.  

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