The Allen Parkway Speed Trap

THE ALLEN PARKWAY SPEED TRAP Traffic accidents increased 47 percent and injuries 154 percent on Allen Parkway last year even as the number of motorists ticketed for speeding continued a lengthy and significant decline on the near-downtown roadway, according to police and municipal court records. . . . Houston police, who were unaware of the drop in speeding tickets until asked by the Houston Chronicle and were at a loss to explain them, said they will begin a weeklong study today of motorists’ speeds on Allen Parkway. If high rates of speeding are detected, an enforcement blitz with radar units will begin, said Capt. Carl Driskell, who heads HPD’s traffic enforcement division.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Flickr user Lee Ann L.

27 Comment

  • Maybe a reason for decline in enforcement has to do with lack of room to pull offenders over?

    Does anybody agree that there is something about Allen Parkway that says “drive me fast”?

  • Yes. I agree. The article didn’t seem to reference any real data about speed being a factor in the increase in crashes. More wrecks plus fewer tickets sounds to me like heavier and slower traffic.

  • I avoid Allen Parkway because most drivers hit the first curve and apparently engage in some fantasy about being in the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. That and the fact that unless they regraded the surface, it is flat out dangerous particularly when wet – sort of like trying to drive on ice. The same thing happens at the first curve on Sunset as it winds its way around Holmby Hills between Beverly Hills and Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Speed and curves don’t mix well. Deadman’s Curve indeed. Quite a few of them all around and they seem to appeal to the insanity of men in particular who, again, fancy themselves in the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.

    And often find themselves flying rather than driving. And along Allen Parkway, sometimes they find themselves flying into a tree.

  • I think the traffic is fast on Allen Parkway, at least westbound coming out of downtown. I frequently exit 45N to Allen Parkway and merging onto it can be like merging onto the highway. There is something about that road that makes you want to stretch your car’s legs a little – but not when it’s wet! I think there are ample places for cops to set speed traps, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for them after this…

  • Hey thanks Chronicle for alerting HPD to this and slowing down the commute for everyone. Just what we need, more speed traps.

    After sitting through the traffic and poorly-timed lights downtown, people just want to fly once they hit the open road. Maybe a bit too much, but I think the speed limit on AP is a bit unrealistic anyway.

  • Allen Parkway is a stark contrast to the rest of straight-flat Houston, so it’s no surprise people drive it differently. Speed doesn’t always equate to stupidity – unless there are mitigating factors like wet roads or lack of driver skill.

    Speaking of stupidity, I’m not sure that planting oaks on the median was a good idea. Not only does it reduce visibility, but the odd driver spin-out seems safer in the absence of the oaks.

  • You know what’ll slow down traffic on AP? The combination of a good rain storm and the dip under Montrose/Studamont. You do have to consider that there are no (ZERO) traffic lights on Allen Parkway between downtown and Shephard. There really are no reasons to slow down other than merging traffic. Memorial is the same way – no traffic lights between downtown and Detering.

  • Chris,

    You are not correct. There is a light on A.P. at Taft.

  • Archie, if you’re turning left. Otherwise going from downtown outbound you don’t stop there.

  • Wait, Allen Parkway has a speed-limit? When did that happen?

  • The current speed limit is 40 mph. I can remember a time when it was 35. Maybe it is time to bump the limit back down. I used to office overlooking AP at Taft. Without fail every time there was a bit of rain, there would be at least one wreck. Next time you have a chance to ride as a passenger, notice how many of the trees in the median are left, not many.

  • Mystery, you must be a life long Texan, driving on Allen Parkway does not come close to ice, a decent set of tires and no cell phone will serve you well though.

  • From my geometric design days, the curves on Allen Parkway could easily take 55 mph on wet pavement with quality tires (not necessarily expensive tires).

    With that 55 mph limit, the curve should never be posted higher than about 45 mph. 40 mph may be the max posted based on a higher factor of safety.

  • Mystery, you must be a life long Texan, driving on Allen Parkway does not come close to ice, a decent set of tires and no cell phone will serve you well though.

    Most Houstonians, native anyway, don’t know how to drive on ice. Or on rain-slicked streets. Particularly on Allen Parkway.

    But some love the thrill of the curves and put the pedal to the metal. Rain or shine. And end up like John O’Quinn.

  • Exactly, once upon a time I had an office overlooking Allen Parkway, cars over the edge were a regualar occurance, luckily the culprits walked out more than not

  • I love Allen Pkwy and think all roads should be just like it!
    It’s fun even AT the speed limit.
    Any driver who cannot keep his/her car on the road deserves the result. Plant more big trees!

  • I noticed the HPD instant-read speed radars on the side of the road of AP today. I have no problem of increased enforcement on AP. I hate having to fight the onslaught of Ranges driving 55 mph three across all the way down the winding and curving road. Using my math minor skills acquired in college, I calculated you save just under one freakin’ minute (2.5 min vs. 3.5 min) by just driving the speed limit as opposed to 55 mph down the 2.3 mile stretch. I wonder if John O’Quinn thought is was worth it, even with his hourly rate.

  • Allen Parkway is fun! …when it’s dry. Get a slight mist and you’re asking for trouble.

    Anecdote: while traveling outbound a while back HPD had a speed trap just outside of downtown, there was an officer stepping in front of cars on the roadway pointing people over. It didn’t seem very safe to me. But I guess it’s for our own good..

  • Bill,

    They do that technique all the time for inbound drivers on Hempstead HWY just before it makes a turn to go under the railroad tracks and merge with Katy Road in the afternoon hours. They hang out at TxDOT maintenance facility parking lot.

    It’s usually three cops working together. It must be a big money maker with the speed limit at 35mph and most people generally doing about 50 to 55mph. I am noticing more and more people doing the speed limit over the course of the last 6 months.

  • Speaking from experience – In a light rain, AP under 45 definitely IS like ice. It’s probably the grime washing off the interstate above.

  • Whatever speed you guys drive on Allen Parkway, just watch out for the cyclists on the side please.

  • The problem with Allen is the frigging roadway is CROWNED. Crowns work on sidestreets; 40mph parkways, not so much.

    There’s about a 20mph difference between how fast you can go hugging the inside of Allen’s corners (i.e., tire partway into the gutter) versus the outside, where there’s perhaps a 6% or greater *negative* superelevation rate.

  • KHH,

    You have a point. The crown will continue to get worse as long as the asphalt section are continually cold-planed (stripped) and resurfaced.

  • @jgbiggs,
    So if speeding is a problem on Allen Parkway, and enforcement has decreased over the past few years, why would simply lowering the speed limit change anything? I would think increased enforcement for the speed limit we already have would have the greater effect.

  • KHH is 100% right. Between the crown & the concrete curbs that mate unevenly with the road – Allen Pkwy drives even narrower than its dimensions. Half of my commute is spent avoiding NASCAR wannbes in my lane. Speed exacerbates the problem – add giant trucks, cell phones and any amount of rain and you get John O’Quinn, or the person who wrapped their car around a tree in the median a couple weeks ago. Sure it’s curvy & fun, but who wants to die going to work?

  • Cops with radar guns there this morning around 11AM.

  • Speaking of speed traps… watch out on Shepherd/Durham and TC Jester going over the bridge over the former RR tracks right north of I-10. I see a speed trap on either street at least once a month (this is where the officer will walk into your lane from his hiding spot and point you to a side street where his buddies are waiting for you). Speed limit is 35 mph.