Child’s Letter Puts Focus On La Mancha Traffic Concerns

Savannah Bibey and her friends want motorists to observe stop signs and speed limits on Ponce de Leon Street in La Mancha.

Speeding and running stop signs in the La Mancha neighborhood took center stage at last week’s meeting of the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

The entire Bibey family from La Mancha showed up on Thursday, Nov. 15 to ask the council to do something about speeders and stop-sign-runners along Ponce de Leon Street near its northern intersection with Galliano Street.

“God help them if they hurt my kids,” mom Rachel Bibey said as she hand-delivered a letter to Mayor Fred Pinto, written and signed by her daughter, nine-year-old Savannah Bibey.

She explained that about 15 children live in the immediate vicinity and routinely cross the street to visit and play with each other.

“I live on Ponce de Leon Street. Lately a lot of people have been speeding, running the stop sign or both,” Savannah wrote, adding that she feels unsafe crossing the street to see her friends.

Her letter went on to ask the council for speed bumps or another traffic-calming measure. She said that she is especially scared for her seven-year-old brother Noah, who also has friends across the street.

Savannah’s father, Thomas Bibey, told the council that speeding is very bad at the intersection.

“Speeders will actually zoom around cars that do stop for the intersection,” he said, adding that a neighbor has the intersection on a security camera and video documentation is available showing how often motorists blatantly disregard the stop sign and speed limits.

The letter to the mayor was all Savannah’s idea.

“She heard my wife and I talk about the issue, and she said that this is so important that she wanted to write a letter,” Thomas Bibey said.

Savannah, 11, is a fourth grader at H.L. Johnson Elementary School, who someday hopes to become a doctor.

The issues at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Galliano streets is well-known to members of the La Mancha Facebook group, where members regularly post videos of speeders and stop-sign-runners.

Pinto expressed concern about the situation, asking Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ulrich Naujoks, who was at the meeting, to take note. “I am a strong believer in taking preventive actions instead of waiting to react,” Pinto said.

Naujoks spoke to the Bibey family after the meeting and called them the next morning.

“Since our community meeting earlier this year in La Mancha, I was made aware of this particular intersection, and I asked to be added to the Facebook group,” he said. “I can say on the record that our enforcement has already been active and is reaping results.”

Naujoks added that he personally spent Friday morning staking out the intersection looking for better places from which law enforcement officers can enforce the stop sign and speed limit.

In 2017, the village asked traffic consultants Simmons & White to study the issue of traffic calming on La Mancha Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street. According to its final report, dated June 2, 2017, Ponce de Leon does not meet the threshold in accordance with the village’s traffic calming policy.

La Mancha Avenue did meet the threshold, but residents living on La Mancha rejected traffic calming in a formal village survey. According to the report, there was insufficient traffic data to trigger a survey of residents on Ponce de Leon.

Not everyone who lives on Ponce de Leon Street wants traffic calming, such as Robert Allbright, who has lived on the street for 30 years.

“No speed bumps because they beat your car up,” he said. “Don’t penalize everyone for the actions of a few, but please step up enforcement, and law breakers should have the book thrown at them.”

The Bibey family believes that their visit to the council meeting was productive.

“I feel like our voice was being heard,” Rachel Bibey said. “They called the next morning, and I feel like official reaction to Savannah’s letter has been very responsive.”

In the meantime, she has this message for drivers in La Mancha.

“None of us want our kids hooked to electronics,” she said. “We encourage our kids to get out and play outside more. So please, drivers, know that lots of kids play near here. Please slow down and drive safely.”