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Thread: Failed traffic calming

  1. #1
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    Failed traffic calming

    Has anyone experienced failed traffic calming measures that did not live up to the estimates for reducing traffic?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Traffic calming is not supposed to reduce traffic, it is designed to "calm" it. i.e make it more safe for integration with pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I don't think I've ever seen one "fail", but I have seen the same people that requested the traffic calming flip out when it didn't do what they thought it would (despite what city staff told them in their little community meeting). The ones that "failed" are often the ones where the people expected the cars to magically go away rather than simply slow down. Traffic calming rarely reduces quantity.

    As far as traffic calming that I feel provides little return on investment, I'd have to go with speed humps. They don't really add to the pedestrian environment and cars often find creative ways to speed over them. The rubber tortoise shells are probably the worst.

    I personally prefer neck-downs (narrower streets/lanes also), well designed roundabouts, raised crosswalks and streetscaping to calm traffic, but that's more personal preference.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Jeff's post is right on.
    Anywho, do you have a specific situation to provide details on?

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    She's fishing for free professional advice to save her and her neighbors a penny or two.

    If you can afford to live on a cul-de-sac, you can afford to pay for a consultant.

    Moderator note:
    Keep the snarks to the FAC. That was not appropriate.

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    Last edited by Chet; 11 Aug 2006 at 1:02 AM.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Yep, we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on traffic calming measures on ONE road in the municipality I work for. Everything from increased police patrol to public education to ornamental brick "chokers" to temporary speed humps to stop signs. And the residents here still complain. It's a road lined with $300,000-500,000 homes with no sidewalks that's used as a through-street. The problem is this section of the road and neighborhood was developed back in the 80s when long-range planning was unheard of and the street didn't go through. Now it goes through and everything is built up all around it.

    And others are right...people think that the traffic calming measures will make traffic go away. Wrong! It just wastes money, makes traffic go slower, and makes drivers more agitated.

    The solution is to improve other nearby roads intended for high-use (i.e. widening, signal improvements, etc.).
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    And others are right...people think that the traffic calming measures will make traffic go away. Wrong! It just wastes money, makes traffic go slower, and makes drivers more agitated. The solution is to improve other nearby roads intended for high-use (i.e. widening, signal improvements, etc.).
    I wholeheartedly disagree with you. One anecdote does not equal a transferable theory. I have seen plenty of examples where traffic calming measures have slowed traffic, reduced crash rates and diverted some through traffic onto major arterials. You also seem to be dismissing the aesthetic function of streetscape improvements.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    I wholeheartedly disagree with you. One anecdote does not equal a transferable theory. I have seen plenty of examples where traffic calming measures have slowed traffic, reduced crash rates and diverted some through traffic onto major arterials. You also seem to be dismissing the aesthetic function of streetscape improvements.
    You missed the point. Illinoisplanner made the point that people think traffic calming makes traffic go away. Thats not its purpose, as previsouly stated by others. While you may disagree with the poster's solution, your rebuttal dismissed was somewhat spurious.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    To quote my traffic engineer, "If you want the slow to go slow you have to let the fast go fast". I've adopted this mantra into my planning especially for roadway improvements and transportation master planning.

    For instance if you have a single East/West road that is a primary roadway with a 'downtown area' (loosely) in that area connecting two state highways you cannot consider traffic calming that major arterial since it is the only path traffic can take. However, if you had a bypass or alternate routes to handle the traffic levels that would be thwarted by traffic calming in that area you can make the road reduced speed and traffic calmed.

    Traffic calming is a lot more than plopping a few bump outs, speed humps, or a round about in the roadway. It involves regional or at least area thinking about why the drivers take the roads they do and what can be done to accomdate through traffic in the area. Promoting interconnectivity and alternate routes is a great way to reduce overall congestion on major roads.
    @GigCityPlanner

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide
    To quote my traffic engineer, "If you want the slow to go slow you have to let the fast go fast". .
    That sounds like something a traffic engineer would say.

    The other way to do it: Make slow the new fast. Heck in most major metros that's happening on its own. Traffic speeds as a whole are trending downward. But to a traffic engineer that would be seen as a problem.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    You missed the point.
    No I didn't. I was disagreeing with his propositions that traffic calming "wastes money" and that the "solution is to improve other nearby roads intended for high-use." Sorry, I can't let statements like that slip by unchecked.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Drivers start taking "cut-through" routes when major arterials are clogged. Improving these roads IS a viable solution to the problem of cut through traffic. Is it traffic calming? No, b/c as we've all said, traffic calming is not meant to reduce traffic.


    Sometimes, residents need to be reminded of the primary function of a road. It is for vehicular traffic. Be it car, truck, bike whatever...it isnt there for decoration.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Traffic calming measures have the potential to reduce traffic on specific roads in certain instances where alternate roads are available. An example would be two roads leading from the same place which would enable you to get where you want to go. Do you take the one that has speed bumps and requires you to go no more than 15 mph or do you take the road that allows you to go 45?

    But Jeff hit the nail on the head when he said that traffic calming measures are intended to "calm" traffic not reduce it. Otherwise these measures would be called traffic reducing measures.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmm....

    Broward County Florida should be one of the poster children for clogged arterial streets and cut through traffic where streets actually go through It's kind of ironic that the lack of connectivity from 20 years of subdivision design has gone full circle and created a situation where cut-through traffic is difficult or impossible in entire neighborhood areas. But then again, as others are suggesting, the very lack of collector roadways and connectivity are a major reason for clogged arterials

    I still think connectivity is the right thing to do, for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic. Spread it out and if you want to get away from traffic, DON'T live in a MEGA-CITY Remember people....Dilution is the solution.....jee wiz
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Connectivity is definitly the answer.

    Here in Philly, and grid N.S.E.W whith VERY few exceptions, theres traffic, but there are options to escape it...go South, or make a right head North etc...there are 100 different ways to get from point A to B, but in the suburbs you have 1 way, maybe 2, and those arterials dont move when they are jammed.

  16. #16

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    Instance of Traffic Calming measures that were removed...

    http://www.canada.com/calgary/calgar...1-6ad1be5346b8
    "Ald. Druh Farrell admitted the temporary devices that block sections of the right-hand lane on both north and southbound 4th Street were causing more problems than they were solving.

    The cement blocks were originally put in place to slow traffic, but neighbours say they are a hazard.

    "We tested them for quite a while and it was obvious from quite early on they weren't working as we had planned," Farrell explained."

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    not exactly sure what I'm looking at in that picture? Is that the shoulder? And they were trying to restrict its use?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff
    not exactly sure what I'm looking at in that picture? Is that the shoulder? And they were trying to restrict its use?
    It looks like they just stuck a temporary bulb-out in half of a striped travel lane? Who does that, and why? Why not just stripe the road as one lane?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Iron Ring's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    It looks like they just stuck a temporary bulb-out in half of a striped travel lane? Who does that, and why? Why not just stripe the road as one lane?
    Yup, looks like they were trying to test the bulb-outs using parking lot wheel stops before placing something more permanent. I guess that was a good decision, since it wasn't a very good idea to start with. Bulb-outs/neck-downs work well enough on relatively narrow 2 lane roadways. With a 4 lane cross section like this theres no reason to slow down, drivers will (and apparently did) just slide halfway into the middle lane to dodge the bulb out. Why they are trying to do traffic calming on what looks like a 4 lane arterial is what I'm wondering.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    OK so I'm not crazy....loooks just like they created a bottleneck!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    No I didn't. I was disagreeing with his propositions that traffic calming "wastes money" and that the "solution is to improve other nearby roads intended for high-use." Sorry, I can't let statements like that slip by unchecked.
    It does waste money when you've tried a wide variety of solutions and none of them seem to work and traffic is still a problem and the residents bitch and moan even when you try to work with them and try to solve the problem.

    This residential road was never intended for high-use. Other roads (i.e. county roads, state highways) are, and since it's a mostly regional traffic issue, the problem is not going to be fixed until the regional road roads are widened and extended.

    Until then, I really see the best option as increased police patrol and targetting reckless and abusive drivers. Traffic control devices (except stop signs) are stupid and do nothing but ruin cars and make drivers slow down for 2-second increments, and then speed up to the next device. The devices are meant for people to avoid the road or to slow down, and people do neither. Until you divert "regional" traffic to the appropriate "regional" roads, the problem will not be solved.
    Last edited by illinoisplanner; 11 Aug 2006 at 10:59 PM.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Traffic control devices (except stop signs) are stupid and do nothing but ruin cars and make drivers slow down for 2-minute increments, and then speed up to the next device. The devices are meant for people to avoid the road or to slow down, and people do neither. Until you divert "regional" traffic to the appropriate "regional" roads, the problem will not be solved.

    Traffic calming devices can work to accomplish their intended purpose. It sounds like in your situation the property owners are more upset about cut through traffic as opposed to the speed and recklessness of the traffic.

    I have seen traffic calming measures succeed in making drivers slow down and in creating a disincentive to use said road. I know personally I find myself drving much slower on roads that have speed humps than on ones that do not - and I can think of at least one road in my neighborhood that I avoid specifically because of the speed humps whereas if they were not there I would use it as a short cut. I'm sure it doesn't always work and most times the property owners still complain because that's what they are best at.

    I dont think you can make a generalized statement like that - that they all suck and are stupid and do nothing.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner
    Traffic calming devices can work to accomplish their intended purpose. It sounds like in your situation the property owners are more upset about cut through traffic as opposed to the speed and recklessness of the traffic.

    I have seen traffic calming measures succeed in making drivers slow down and in creating a disincentive to use said road. I know personally I find myself drving much slower on roads that have speed humps than on ones that do not - and I can think of at least one road in my neighborhood that I avoid specifically because of the speed humps whereas if they were not there I would use it as a short cut. I'm sure it doesn't always work and most times the property owners still complain because that's what they are best at.

    I dont think you can make a generalized statement like that - that they all suck and are stupid and do nothing.
    Yes, some are more upset about cut through traffic as there never was any cut-through traffic before when the road didn't go through and when there was no other development around them. Then there are others who are upset about the recklessness of the traffic. And I'm sure many are upset at both.

    I really think that given there are already permanent brick-paved chokers and stop signs in this neighborhood, that it is enough. They complained about the speed humps before, and now they want them back. But I know people are still going to use this road and many will still drive recklessly. Since it seems so many people drive full-size pick up trucks and SUVs around here, a speed hump's not gonna stop them.

    I'm sure speed humps can work in areas where the arterial roads are actually viable alternatives. In my neck of the woods, people aren't going to avoid the "residential street with the calming devices" until more arterial roads intended for high capacity and high speed are extended and widened. That's just the reality of suburbia. It's not a tough one to figure out...sit in traffic for 15 minutes, or fly up and over speed humps in 5 minutes.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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