I've been thinking about speed traps lately. As a cop, I have long loathed the idea of catching speeders simply for revenue, yet small towns are consistently in need of ready cash, and the steady progression of the small town Mayor's court is like a payday, as regular as Friday, that helps keep the coffers filled. However, the practice generally sucks as it routinely taxes citizens for driving through town.
Small town mayors (hell, big town mayors too!) like four lane highways, with a good median and ample shoulders. They lobby unceasingly for them, then they want them to go right through town. As soon as they get the highway, they set the speed limit at some ridiculous limit, about thirty mph under what the highway is designed for. Then, they instruct the cops to enforce the speed limit. The poor cops ought to write Welcome To Podunk in reversed script across the hood of their cruisers, because the only official welcome a traveler gets is when he is invited to mayor's court.
There is a place and a reason for traffic tickets. Revenue enhancement isn't one of them.
You see, a highway is designed for a particular speed. Interstate highways can sustain higher speeds than unlimited access four-lanes. Those four-lanes can accomodate higher speeds than two lane paved roads. Two lane paved roads are infinitely better at moving traffic than a gravel road, and gravel is better than a dirt path through town.
Putting a four-lane highway through town and setting the speed limit for a two lane highway is ridiculous. First of all, it pisses off motorists. But it also limits the growth of a city. In the Texas example, the first thing a small town wants is a loop around it. Businesses that depend on high speed traffic and good industrial roads locate on that loop. The town grows out and people build homes outside the loop. To take that example to the logical conclusion, look at Shreveport, LA, which has three loops, the Inner Loop, the Industrial Loop, and the Outer Loop. Yet the downtown area remains prosperous, focusing on businesses that uniquely prosper downtown.
One small town mayor recently told me that he wants the speed limit through town set low, so people will stop and give business to his downtown. I asked him what business relies on flow-through traffic and he couldn't point to a single gas station, convenience store, or restaurant that might entice a traveler to stop. The gas stations are on the edge of town. The businesses downtown focus on the resident. He has a high-speed route through town, yet nothing at all for a traveler. All he gets downtown is increased traffic without the benefit of sales. He'd be better off if that good, strong highway passed around his town because business there would enjoy the benefits of cheaper land and room for growth. His town would likewise grow and revenues would increase.
Speed traps aren't the answer. Getting people to stop for gas and soda is only part of the answer. Growing businesses is a better answer.
If you simply want people to slow down, destroy that good four-lane highway and gravel a nice path through town. The traffic will slow down considerably.