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Thread: Lane reflectors (cats' eyes) to narrow effective street width/traffic calming

  1. #1
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    Lane reflectors (cats' eyes) to narrow effective street width/traffic calming

    I am doing some research on developing some additional traffic calming techniques to add to our local arsenal. I am wondering if you have used or know of anyone who has used cats' eyes (those little reflectors glued to the pavement) alongside the edges of local streets, for the primary purpose of traffic calming?

    I know that there are more effective traffic calming techniques, but for a variety of reasons, including costs and neighborhood acceptance, I am trying to devise a low tech low-cost solution...I am particularly interested in applying the technique to local streets of 20-foot width or greater, particularly with no curb and/or sidewalks, that have significant pedestrian activity (despite these design inadequacies), both to achieve some degree of traffic calming and provide a portion of the street where it is safer for the pedestrians to walk in.

    An example: I would envision the that the cats' eyes be placed approximately 2 feet from each road edge, parallel to the edge, spaced approximately every 50' to 60' linearly along the road. I would prefer that the road be striped -- with a white stripe along defining the same margins as where the cats' eyes will be aligned (I know that striping, alone, has been used for traffic calming effect). This would create a cross-section of a two-foot margin between the edge of the pavement on each side of the road and the row of cats' eyes, and a minimum of 16-foot width "travel zone" in between the rows of cats' eyes. I bounced this off our Fire Dept specialist and he was supportive. Please feel free to share any ideas or critiques on this concept...

    Thanks/The Doctor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'd recommend using blue reflectors to distinguish them from lane/directional reflectors.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jass View post
    I'd recommend using blue reflectors to distinguish them from lane/directional reflectors.
    Careful though, some jurisdictions use the blue reflectors in the center of the street to mark the location of a fire hydrant/flush valve.

    I think a solid white reflective paint road stripe will be more effective. It might be cheaper even with the glass bead paint additive for reflectivity, plus get you better visibility at night compared to distant reflectors.

    In locations where these roads exceed 30', you might consider designating these a bicycle lanes or pedestrian lanes with some kind of template.

    "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 DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    This would not do beans to calm traffic during the day (when 80 percent of your traffic occurs). Is there an issue with people speeding at night?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    You could use Bott's dots - that way you'd add some physical bumps as well as just reflection:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botts'_dots

    They would need to be no more than a few feet apart though to work.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I like those Bott's Dots, first time I've ever heard of them. Not much use here in Michigan, the would get shredded by the plows real quick. Could work in FL though.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I like those Bott's Dots, first time I've ever heard of them. Not much use here in Michigan, the would get shredded by the plows real quick. Could work in FL though.
    Oh, I love 'em - they're great for lane markings whenever they can be used, cost less long term than painting, and do offer more of "separation" than just paint between lanes.

    There are several cities in California that use them in a similar manner to what the original poster was talking about - mostly bike lane separation from auto traffic lanes.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  8. #8
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    Oh, I love 'em - they're great for lane markings whenever they can be used, cost less long term than painting, and do offer more of "separation" than just paint between lanes.

    There are several cities in California that use them in a similar manner to what the original poster was talking about - mostly bike lane separation from auto traffic lanes.
    I loved the Bott's Dots when I lived in CA, except when I commuted on my bike (3x/week) and they were wet - definitely an issue if you are scared of cars or eating or drinking or something where only one hand is on the bars.

    With a narrow, 2-ft zone for the poor peds and bikes, you may want to simply use highly reflective white paint as per Suburb Repairman, as I can imagine ditches waiting for the 8-year-old to fall into them because they couldn't handle the raised reflectors, and sign the road for bikes and peds. Just a thought, as liability is a concern in my view.

    Not an easy fix - best of luck.

  9. #9
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Count me as another fan of Botts Dots... totally forgot about those. We use those on several streets where folks are prone to crossing lines.

    "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)

  10. #10
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    Cats' Eyes v. Bott's Dots v. Pavement reflectors

    Thanks all, for the great advice. It forced me to do more research: I think that Cats' eyes, Bott's dots, striping (with and without the reflective glass beads), ceramic traffic buttons, and pavement reflectors all have value for assistance with traffic calming. The striping alone is good at providing visual/psychological cues to the driver, creating the impression of a narrower travel way, but the others, particularly the buttons and reflectors, have a tactile quality (although nothing like a speed hump, etc.).

    So right now, I am liking the pavement reflectors more (and I thought that they were synonymous with "cats' eyes," but apparently cats' eyes are depressed into the pavement (sounds sickening)). They run apx. $5 a piece, and don't seem to require a crew with a lot of training to install. I do believe that they would work better with the edge of pavement stripe than without, but $ is more problematic than ever. Keep giving me your opinions; I'll keep researching, too. Thanks!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Doctor View post
    Thanks all, for the great advice. It forced me to do more research: I think that Cats' eyes, Bott's dots, striping (with and without the reflective glass beads), ceramic traffic buttons, and pavement reflectors all have value for assistance with traffic calming. The striping alone is good at providing visual/psychological cues to the driver, creating the impression of a narrower travel way, but the others, particularly the buttons and reflectors, have a tactile quality (although nothing like a speed hump, etc.).

    So right now, I am liking the pavement reflectors more (and I thought that they were synonymous with "cats' eyes," but apparently cats' eyes are depressed into the pavement (sounds sickening)). They run apx. $5 a piece, and don't seem to require a crew with a lot of training to install. I do believe that they would work better with the edge of pavement stripe than without, but $ is more problematic than ever. Keep giving me your opinions; I'll keep researching, too. Thanks!
    If money is a big concern, what about having a combination? Maybe three Bott's dots, one reflector, three Bott's dots, one reflector, something along those lines. Bott's dots are significantly less than $5 each (not sure of the price off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure they're less than a buck each).
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  12. #12
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    Why not, indeed. And certainly for that price. That's sounds good, too.

    When I get my research together, I will likely propose that option (the variety of dots and reflectors, etc) and see if I can get the "Traffic Engineering" people to be supportive. I would imagine that if the reflectors are used, they would have to be put in the "correct" location according to color. I'm no longer up on the MUTCD stiping and signage manual, but I could imagine being scolded for not complying or something of the like. Ever hopeful or just ignorant, the Doctor.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Doohickie's avatar
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    Botts Dots are used extensively here in Fort Worth. For visibility at night, every fifth or tenth or somethingth dot is a cat eye reflector (in white). Lights up fine.

    I've switched over to cycle commuting and I have mixed feelings about them. Since cars rarely cross over the dots, there is often a lot of debris on the shoulder on the non-roadway side of the dots. So while the shoulder is protected from traffic and therefore a good natural bike lane (whether or not it's marked as such), I sometimes have to jog back into the traffic lane to avoid debris or for that matter parked cars, and the dots are kind of a pain to have to navigate a bike around, and quite jarring if you're not successful.

    If your primary concern is pedestrians, though, I would say none of that negative stuff applies.

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