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Boy tracks speeders with toy radar gun

Subdivision plans speed humps to slow drivers

By Charlie White
The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As city leaders look to address speeding in the Stone Lakes subdivision off Taylorsville Road, one neighborhood boy is taking it upon himself to hold speeders accountable.

After numerous complaints about speeders, Metro Councilman Stuart Benson commissioned a traffic study for the area. "We probably get 10 calls for speeding there for every one in any other neighborhood," said Angela Webster, Benson's legislative aide.

In the meantime, 11-year-old Landon Wilburn got an idea. He and his friends had often yelled at speeders to slow down, to no avail.

Then last month, Landon began pointing a Hot Wheels-brand radar gun at them and charting their speeds. The orange radar gun, which costs $30 to $40 at toy stores -- although Landon traded toys with a neighbor for his -- can clock the speed of almost anything from baseballs to cars.

Landon also began wearing an orange safety vest and carrying a battery-operated flashlight with a built-in siren.

George Ayers, 61, who lives on Stone Lakes Drive, said he could not believe his eyes when he first saw Landon with the radar gun. He initially didn't recognize the boy and, judging by drivers' reactions, he thought he might be a police officer.

"When I saw it happening, I got the biggest kick out of it," Ayers said. "People were locking up their brakes when they saw him."

Ayers, who knew Benson had received lots of complaints about speeding in Stone Lakes, told him, "You wouldn't believe what Landon is doing."

The speed limit on nearby Taylorsville Road is 55 mph, but Landon found that several drivers approached that speed through his neighborhood, where it is posted at 25 mph.

The city's traffic study found there were enough speeders on Stone Lakes Drive to meet the standards for adding speed humps, which force drivers to slow down. They are flatter and wider than traditional speed bumps.

The Metro Council recently adopted a policy for speed humps, and the first two sets have been installed on Sudbury Lane between Breckenridge and Hunsinger lanes, and on Trail Ridge Road off Barbour Lane.

Preliminary approval has been given for four speed humps along Stone Lakes Drive, although 70 percent of its residents must sign a petition before they are installed, Webster said.

Each speed hump and its accompanying signs and markings cost about $1,800. Benson's office would use neighborhood development money to pay for half, but the developer or the homeowners association will have to pay the rest.

Ayers said he will sign the petition.

"We have tried everything else," he said, including putting up signs, talking about it in the neighborhood newsletters and asking police for more patrols on the street.

Landon's parents, Bryan and Julia Wilburn, moved to the subdivision 10 years ago, and many developments have sprung up around them off Taylorsville Road between the Snyder Freeway and Tucker Station Road.

"It has grown a ton and the traffic has gotten progressively worse," Julia Wilburn said.

Copyright 2008 The Courier-Journal

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