Driving in the land of killer speed bumps

The in basket: I have written a lot about speed bumps, and speed humps and speed tables and their various approaches to slowing down drivers by requiring then to slow down or suffer anything from a rattle in the trunk to a broken suspension.

Generally I’ve addressed complaints about them from readers or ideas on how they can be made less disruptive.

I have been spending a lot of time recently in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and environs, and let me tell you you don’t know how good you’ve got it in Kitsap County.

The out basket: In Mexico, or at least in Baja California Sur, as the southern half of the Baja Peninsula is called, speed bumps/humps/tables are called “topes,” pronounced TOH-pays, and they will make you thankful for a mere speed bump, which is the worst of the three kinds in the Northwest.

There are two kinds in Cabo. The least objectionable are a series of round rises that run in a row across the road. In the states they would be called RPMs, for raised pavement markers, or, familiarly, “turtles.” They are, at least, not hard to see and not especially damaging if you hit them too hard. Many of the rows are missing a turtle or several and you can minimize the bounce by aiming for the gaps.

They can be deployed as they are in the states, but I’ve also seen them at the stop signs on two downhill legs of  a city intersection, forcing great care at the signs.

Then there is the other kind. They might be made of asphalt, concrete or even dirt. They span the roadway and are tall and painful to go over at a normal speed. Worst of all, little effort is made to make them visible as a variation in the road surface and there are no signs warning of them. They are devilishly hard to see at night.

I’m told it’s not unusual for passengers to yell out “Tope!!” when they don’t think the driver has seen one. Brake shops in Cabo must love them, as braking suddenly when you realize you’re about to cross one (or your passengers have just loudly warned you)

is a common experience. Still, that’s a lot better than hitting one at the speed limit. That could require an auto repair shop or conceivably, a body shop.

A main freeway through Cabo will be flanked by parallel access roads on each side, ingress and egress to which is regulated, as you see in HOV lanes in the states. You don’t have to worry about topes on the freeway, where the speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour (60 mph). It’s on the access roads that you’ll find topes and, perhaps as a result of the widespread destruction wreaked in 2014 by Hurricane Odile, they are often augmented by fearsome potholes.

I’ve been driven around the area so far, and haven’t had to watch for topes while behind the wheel. It’s a thrill I can’t say I’m looking forward to.

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