HAYWARD -- Mark Branco does not object to asphalt speed bumps used where needed, but he's not standing for the rubber ones on most of the streets that lead into his neighborhood.
"You hit a wall; it's like hitting a two-by-four," he said. "They're much harder on cars than the asphalt ones."
Hayward switched to the rubber strips because they cost less, are made of recycled material and can be removed when a street is repaved, the city's transportation director said.
Two or more of the rubber strips, technically "speed lumps," are placed on the road, with gaps that permit fire trucks to drive between them. Motorists should have no trouble if they drive over the strips at the recommended 15 mph, said Morad Fakhrai.
"We don't make them out of pillows. They are made of hard material so they will last and to discourage people from driving over them fast," he said.
But all three streets into Branco's Longwood-Winton Grove neighborhood from the north have speed lumps.
One of the two streets drivers use to get to the neighborhood from the west has speed lumps, and so does the main street leading south.
"We're pretty much boxed in," Branco said. "You don't have to be a traffic engineer to figure out this is overkill."
One of his neighbors said she had to find an alternate route to drive her husband to his dialysis treatments because driving over the 3-inch-high rubber lumps was too painful for him.
"Every time I go across one, you still feel it, even at 5 mph," said Joyce Carpenter. "I think, my God, what does this do to our car?"
Another Longwood-Winton Grove resident said he has to almost halt when encountering the lumps.
"The permanent asphalt ones are much better; you can go over them slowly," John Sands said.
The city installs the lumps only where people ask for them, Fakhrai said, and two-thirds of the street's residents have to sign a petition asking for them. The city evaluates the request to see if it meets requirements, including a speed survey that shows 15 percent of the traffic exceeds 32 mph.
The city did no traffic volume studies, said Branco, who calls himself an advocate for his neighborhood. The city's speed surveys, he said, were brief, inadequate and the two streets surveyed don't have a speeding problem, he said.
"They ignored all their criteria. They waived the requirements, which they have the authority to do," he said. He also objected that to avoid the lumps, people start driving on nearby streets.
The rubber lumps have worked out fine in other neighborhoods. "The street that I live on is almost like a freeway," said Tom Chimpky, who gathered signatures to install the strips on Eldridge Avenue in South Hayward.
"I got way more signatures than I needed; only a couple of people said no," he said. "A clear majority knew people were driving way too fast down our street and it was dangerous."
The lumps have made a big difference on the busy street, slowing most drivers down, Chimpky said.
Ambulances have to drive slowly over the lumps, but that has little effect on response time, an ambulance company spokesman said.
"Much more important is where we position the ambulances in the field," said Dale Feldhauser, of Paramedics Plus, which covers Alameda County.
When the speed strips were put on the street behind Chris Jordan's home a few blocks east of I-880, drivers started using his street to get around the lumps, he said.
"People were going down my street at freeway speed," he said. He petitioned for speed lumps on his street. Traffic has dropped off after they were installed in 2010, he said.
Jordan admitted he doesn't like driving over the rubber lumps. "But it's much safer now for kids to play in front of the homes or ride bikes in the street," he said.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.