According to statistics compiled recently by the Southold Town Police Department, about 90 percent of the cars on Main Street in Greenport are traveling within three percent of the 30 mph speed limit, and the highest speed recorded was 49 mph, according to Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr.
The speed survey was done by the Southold Town police highway patrol officers on May 11 and 13, according to Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley.
“May 11 was completed between 4 and 5:30 p.m. and May 13 was completed between 10 and 11 a.m.,” the chief said by email. “All surveys were conducted on Main Street between First Street and Monsell Place by the officers using unmarked police vehicles and handheld radar guns.”
The speed survey was done in conjunction with a village proposal to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph on village roads, and to request the state to lower from 30 mph to 25 mph on Front Street and Main Street, which are state roads.
About 500 cars went by during the survey, according to Mr. Hubbard.
“We had asked for this and I want to thank Chief Flatley and his officers for doing this,” he said. “Basically, we had discussed people going 40-to-50 mph, but there really wasn’t a lot of that on the days they tracked.”
Police did not monitor speeds along Fifth Avenue, which has been mentioned as a location where speeding occurs during a village public hearing on lowering the limits, Mr. Hubbard said.
Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said police also put up speed limit signs for traffic coming into the village, as well as a flashing speed limit sign, which she feels has lowered speeds.
Ms. Phillips and Trustee Julia Robins both said they do not support lowering the speed limit.
“Five mph is not going to change bad driving habits,” Ms. Robins said. She feels the improved signage is a key to lowering speed limits.
Ms. Phillips also feels the new signage has helped, as had an increased police presence in the village.
Eric and Bridget Elkin, the Main Street residents who initiated the petition to have a 25 mph speed limit, both expressed disappointment with the positions taken by Ms. Phillips and Ms. Robins.
“Originally, when the conversation started about changing the speed limit, it was really about safety,” Mr. Elkin said. “Somewhere along the line, the debate shifted to ‘how prevalent is speeding?’”
Ms. Elkin said the braking distance is 17 feet more in a car going 30 mph as compared to one going 25 mph, and the survival rate in accidents increases by 50 percent at 30 compared to 25.
Ms. Phillips asked how many pedestrian traffic fatalities have occurred in the last decade on Main Street.
“I don’t think we have to wait for someone to be fatally injured before we change the speed limit,” Ms. Elkin said.
“I’ve done my research, but we have a state road and they’ve done their research and established that the speed limit is 30 mph,” Ms. Phillips said.
Trustees Doug Roberts and Jack Martilotta, who have supported the 25 mph speed limit, were both absent Thursday.
Mr. Hubbard didn’t state a position Thursday, but said the board will discuss the issue again at its June work session, when the other board members are present before taking a vote.