Has Charlotte become Sturgis, South Dakota, East?


We were sitting on our front lawn with some friends, sipping cool liquids, when a motor cyclist came blasting up Hinesburg Road from Spear Street, exhaust plugs wide open, speed in the range of 60 miles per hour by the time he hit the half-mile climb past us, and looking as though his next stop might be Sturgis, South Dakota, to join his cronies where speed and sound and hundreds of cycles count above all else on the face of the planet.

Recently, our Front Porch Forum has contained a number of individuals’ thoughts about road speed in town. Several have wanted to see the limit raised to 30 miles per hour, since that is closer to the speed people drive anyway. Why not be realistic, they ask?

So, I decided to take a somewhat strange bent toward comparing Charlotte with other places and what they set as an urban limit.

This begins with a piece of bizarre history of my own piece of property. My late next-door neighbor, John Sheehan, had been cleaning his storeroom and came across a photo of our lot as a softball diamond. Now, is our house third base or the pitcher’s mound? It beats me because I think foliage has impinged on the outfield since the picture was taken. The base paths became vegetable gardens. However, yesterday I saw one of our state animals, a bobtail cat, scouring our back yard, apparently looking for a short route to second base.

Locals, mostly farmers, traded milk buckets for bats, gloves and leather balls to take on their compatriots from Hinesburg, Vergennes and Monkton in local softball battles. (Were they the Hinesburg Hiccups? And was our crew the East Charlotte Endians?)

In those days, would the street speed of passing traffic endanger ballplayers? Yes, in all likelihood. So, I decided to check out similar situations in other towns – well, places like Chicago, for example. My sons lived in the Wrigley Field section of Chicago’s North Side, and I looked up the speed limit around Cub Town. Low and behold it turned out to be 30 miles per hour. We live in the Chicago of Vermont apparently.

So, let’s take advantage of that fact and raise the town limit to 30, putting up speed signs and placing healthy fines on the backs of motorcyclists who think the faster one goes, the greater the wisdom gained. My thought about this is that if you can’t abide by the rules, at least cover your plugs before going up our hill so we won’t hear your turbo-charged Harley. And by the way, people do turn out of driveways in the village and cannot be expected to see you cruising either direction at 60 mph. Even with an attempt at a quick slowdown, somebody is liable to become dead meat (and not a Philo Ridge Beefer). We’re a village. Let’s act like one.