14 November 2009

Speed Bumps

The speed bump is an institution in México. Law enforcement resources are committed to things other than traffic enforcement. Therefore, speed restrictions are not enforced by people. They are enforced by the speed bump. Un tope, as they are called here.

The phrase “speed bump” does not do justice to the speed bumps in México. “Speed hillocks” might be more appropriate.

Speed bumps are in place not only in cities but out on the open highway in many places. They are everywhere. As late as July I was still having trouble picking up the signs warning of a forthcoming speed bump in the highway. When I hit them at speed, I would damned near tear out the undercarriage of the truck. On our trip to Real de Catorce, Fabien and Maga would scream at me that a speed bump was coming. They got tired of hitting the ceiling of the cab of the truck.

In San Miguel de Allende crosswalks are ingeniously incorporated into the speed bumps. I must say that it works quite well.

As seems to be the case with all human activity, speed bumps have an environmental impact. The constant slowing down and speeding up of vehicles increases emissions. There is an experiment going on with smart speed bumps with sensors in a carpet in advance of the speed bump. If the car approaching is traveling at an acceptable speed, the bump is lowered into the pavement. If the car is speeding, the bump rises to send the speeding vehicle airborne. My only question is, where will the money come from to install those all over México?

For my German speaking friends and others, please check out this video.


Anonymous said...

The smart speed bump...I'm trying to imagine the engineer who came up with that idea.

John said...

The Germans don't do anything half-assed. Wenn schon, denn schon!

Four Dinners said...

Even in German that was class!!!!

Got the bloody things all over the place in England.

Mind you it was funny when a kid in a low hung pimped Cortina got stuck on one near here. Middle of the axle just jammed on it and he sat there rocking gently back and forth.

ZenCrafter said...

Topes! That's the name of the speed bumps as I recall from a trip to the Yucatan in the early 1990s. We hit the first few in our rented VW and the three of us in the back hit the roof, literally. Ouch. I'm enjoying reading about your journey, geographic and personal.