Traffic calming

Traffic calming

Traffic calming is a set of strategies used by urban planners and traffic engineers which aim to slow down or reduce traffic, thereby improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as improving the environment for residents. Calming measures are common in Europe, especially Northern Europe; less so in North America.

Traffic calming was traditionally justified on the grounds of pedestrian safety and reduction of noise and local air pollution which are side effects of the traffic. However, streets have many social and recreational functions which are severely impaired by car traffic. The "Livable Streets" study by Donald Appleyard (circa 1977) found that residents of streets with light traffic had, on average, three more friends and twice as many acquaintances as the people on streets with heavy traffic which were otherwise similar in dimensions, income, etc. For much of the twentieth century, streets were designed by engineers who were charged only with ensuring traffic flow and not with fostering the other functions of streets. The basis for traffic calming is broadening traffic engineering to include designing for these functions.

There are 3 "E"'s that traffic engineers refer to when discussing traffic calming: engineering, (community) education, and (police) enforcement. Because neighborhood traffic management studies have shown that often it is the residents themselves who are contributing to the perceived speeding problem within the neighborhood, it is stressed that the most effective traffic calming plans will entail all three components, and that engineering measures alone will not produce satisfactory results.Fact|date=April 2008

A number of visual changes to roads are being made to many streets to bring about more attentive driving, reduced speeds, reduced crashes, and greater tendency to yield to pedestrians. Visual traffic calming includes "lane narrowings" (9-10'), "road diets" (reduction in lanes), use of trees next to streets, on-street parking, and buildings placed in urban fashion close to streets.

Some additional traffic calming techniques that are often used are speed humps, speed cushions, and speed tables. These devices vary in size based on the desired speed. Humps, cushions and tables slow cars to between 10 and 25 miles per hour. Most devices are made of asphalt or concrete but rubber traffic calming products are emerging as an effective alternative with several advantages.

Types of traffic-calming engineering measures

Traffic calming can include the following engineering measures:

*Narrower traffic lanes — streets can be narrowed by extending the sidewalk, adding bollards or planters, or adding a bike lane or parking. Narrowing traffic lanes differs from other road treatments by making slower speeds seem more natural to drivers and less of an artificial imposition, as opposed to most other treatments used that physically force lower speeds or restrict route choice.
*Speed bumps, sometimes split or offset in the middle to help emergency vehicles reduce delay
* Speed humps, parabolic devices that are less aggressive than speed bumps and used on residential streets
* Speed tables, long flat-topped speed humps that slow cars more gradually than humps
* Speed cushions, a series of three small speed humps that slow cars down but allow emergency vehicles to straddle them so as not to slow response time
*Chicanes, which create a horizontal deflection causing vehicles to slow as they would for a curve
*Raised pedestrian crossings and raised intersection
*Curb extensions (also called bulbouts) which narrow the width of the roadway at pedestrian crossings
*Pedestrian refuges or small islands in the middle of the street
*Median diverters to prevent left turns or through movements into a residential area
*Changing the surface material or texture (for example, the selective use of brick or cobblestone)
*Additional give way (yield) signs
*Converting one-way streets into two-way streets
*Chokers, which are curb extensions that narrow the roadway to a single lane at pointsFact|date=April 2008
*Allowing parking on one or both sides of a street
*Converting an intersection into a cul-de-sac or dead end
*Boom barrier, restricting through traffic to authorised vehicles only.
*Closing of streets to create pedestrian zones
*Reducing speed limits near institutions such as schools and hospitals
*Vehicle activated sign, signs which react with a message if they detect a vehicle exceeding a pre-determined speed.
*Watchman, traffic calming system

Recent trends in North America

Traffic calming has been successfully used for decades in cities across Europe. More recently, in response to growing numbers of traffic accidents and speeding problemsFact|date=April 2007, cities across North America have begun creating traffic calming programs to improve safety and liveability on residential streets. Many municipalities create asphalt or concrete measures, although preformed rubber products that are easier to install and consistently meet standardized requirements are becoming increasingly popular.

Living street

A living street (sometimes known as Home zones or by the Dutch word "woonerf", as the concept originated in the Netherlands) is a street in which the needs of car drivers are secondary to the needs of users of the street as a whole; traffic calming principles are integrated into their design.

See also

* Hierarchy of roads
* New Mobility Agenda
* Pedestrian
* Road traffic control
* Shared space
* Street hierarchy
* Sustainable transportation

External links

* [ Traffic calming in an Ontario, Canada community]
* [ Traffic Calming Local Transport Note 01/07 - Department for Transport (United Kingdom)]
* [ Online Transportation Demand Management Encyclopedia (Canada)]
* [ Guide to Traffic Calming (US)]
* [ Perils for Pedestrians]
* [ Perils For Pedestrians on Google Video]
* [ Walkable Communities]
* [ Traffic Logix Description of Traffic Calming, History, Benefits, and Related Links]
* [ Links to Traffic Calming Programs in Cities Across North America]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • traffic calming — UK [ˈtræfɪk ˌkɑːmɪŋ] US [ˈtræfɪk ˌkɑmɪŋ] noun [uncountable] british methods of slowing down traffic, for example by building raised areas across roads Thesaurus: traffic movements and traffic jamshyponym * * * ˈtraffic calming f66 noun …   Useful english dictionary

  • traffic calming — traffic .calming n [U] BrE changes made to a road to stop people driving too fast ▪ Traffic calming measures have been introduced …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • traffic calming — ► NOUN ▪ the deliberate slowing of traffic in residential areas, by building road humps or other obstructions. ORIGIN translation of German Verkehrsberuhigung …   English terms dictionary

  • traffic calming — also traffic calming N UNCOUNT: usu N n Traffic calming consists of measures designed to make roads safer, for example making them narrower or placing obstacles in them, so that drivers are forced to slow down. The government increased the budget …   English dictionary

  • traffic-calming — see traffic calming …   English dictionary

  • traffic calming — traffic calm|ing [ træfık ,kamıŋ ] noun uncount BRITISH methods of slowing down traffic, for example by building raised areas across roads …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • traffic-calming — traffˈic calming noun Control of vehicular traffic in built up, esp residential, areas by the use of various devices designed to reduce speed and volume, eg sleeping policemen, ramps, etc • • • Main Entry: ↑traffic …   Useful english dictionary

  • traffic calming — /ˈtræfɪk kamɪŋ/ (say trafik kahming) noun the slowing down of traffic by the introduction of speed bumps, chicanes, etc. –traffic calmer, noun …   Australian-English dictionary

  • traffic calming — noun the deliberate slowing of traffic in residential areas by the installation of obstacles to progress …   Wiktionary

  • traffic calming — noun the deliberate slowing of traffic in residential areas, by building road humps or other obstructions …   English new terms dictionary

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