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Bad Drivers or Bad Design?

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,175
Points
51
I know that I have said it more than a few times, “People don’t know how to dive in this city…” But it seems to be getting worse, and it made me wonder if traffic calming incentives help to make people drive safer?

Also, what have you done with your community to improve traffic? Does wider roads with more lanes and no on street parking help or hurt?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I am a fan of traffic calming. Anecdotally, it seems to work for me when I drive on a road with traffic calming elements. The trouble is, we tend to overbuild our roads. If the speed limit is meant to be 30 MPH, we design a road to be safe at 45 MPH, then act surprised when people zip along at 45 MPH. There are many time when I can tell the person behind me is getting ticked because I am only doing 30-32 MPH down the main drag through town - where the speed limit is 25 MPH.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
michaelskis said:
Does wider roads with more lanes and no on street parking help or hurt?
I believe that wider roads encourage people to drive faster, as does the lack of objects along the road (parked cars, tree's, buildings, etc.).
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
Some people just don' t know how to drive.. some people just don't know where they're going. The wider the road the worse people seem to drive.

I tend to like traffic in urban areas better than suburban because in an urban area with many curb cuts and intersections and stoplights I expect sudden turns, stops, etc.

In a suburban setting I expect to get through fast and with minimal disruptions.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
This is one of my major pet peeves. For example, there is a loaded residential boulevard in my town with four lanes, sweeping curves, and no stop signs for a good mile. It is posted for 25 mph!!! Amazing.

At least this street is loaded, newer arterials are lined with nothing but sound walls. I don't care how many trees you plant, a four lane roadway with nothing but a few trees and very few intersections says "45 mph" to me.
 

mgk920

Cyburbian
Messages
4,202
Points
26
SW MI Planner said:
I believe that wider roads encourage people to drive faster, as does the lack of objects along the road (parked cars, tree's, buildings, etc.).
One also has to look at the context of the design. If you design a residential street to look like a two-lane highway with pavement only wide enough for the two lanes, ditches, no room to park cars, the painted lines, etc, people will drive faster on it than if it was designed to look like a city street (a little bit wider but with curbs, storm sewers, sidewalks, terrace trees and a few parked cars mixed in).

In the former case, my mind subconciously says 'I'm out in the country, I can drive faster' whereas in the latter case, it subconciously says 'I'm in the city and must drive slower'.

One has to be carefull with 'traffic calming' things, too. They are usefull in purely residential side-street areas, but could cause grief, encourage 'road rage' and increase pollution on major streets.

Also, according to those whom I talk with who know about these things, simply posting slower speed limits has little effect on driving speed, only causing drivers to question the wisdom of other speed limits that were set for sound engineering reasons and breeding a more dangerous disrespect for other more 'wholesome' laws in general. Police enforcement will slow things down a bit, but within a short while of the cop leaving, things will be right back to what they were before he/she got there.

It is 100% context of design.

Mike
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
mgk920 said:
One also has to look at the context of the design. If you design a residential street to look like a two-lane highway with pavement only wide enough for the two lanes, ditches, no room to park cars, the painted lines, etc, people will drive faster on it than if it was designed to look like a city street (a little bit wider but with curbs, storm sewers, sidewalks, terrace trees and a few parked cars mixed in).

In the former case, my mind subconciously says 'I'm out in the country, I can drive faster' whereas in the latter case, it subconciously says 'I'm in the city and must drive slower'.

One has to be carefull with 'traffic calming' things, too. They are usefull in purely residential side-street areas, but could cause grief, encourage 'road rage' and increase pollution on major streets.

Also, according to those whom I talk with who know about these things, simply posting slower speed limits has little effect on driving speed, only causing drivers to question the wisdom of other speed limits that were set for sound engineering reasons and breeding a more dangerous disrespect for other more 'wholesome' laws in general. Police enforcement will slow things down a bit, but within a short while of the cop leaving, things will be right back to what they were before he/she got there.

It is 100% context of design.

Mike
I'm not sure I agree. The critical thing is still width of pavement/number of lanes and the geometry of the curves and intersections. Your factors can help, but people still drive really fast along the four lane arterial I mention above-and its fully loaded with driveways, parked cars, and the like.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
In NJ there are county road networks signed as such

they originally connected all of the old towns with other towns and farming communities. The county still has control over them.

in my old town of Collingswood the county came through and took 3 feet of sidewalk on either side to widen 561 through town. Like most county routes it happens to be the Main St. for more than a few towns. The speed limit is 25 but speeds of 40+ are not at all uncommon as the road is wide and straight and the only thing to break up your vista is the philly skyline.

Before the town installed bump-outs they mayor would drag these huge planters out into the street right up to the edge of the travel lane. People kept running into them. Giant planters, 4 ft. high, with a tree and flowers all around. Rather than write reckless driving tickets they pulled the planters back.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Reasonable and prudent anyone? All it takes is a few drivers doing their own thing. It could be weaving and speeding or it could be going less than the speed of traffic in the left lane. Either situation creates problems. Design seems to have the biggest influence on behavior though. Try this one...80' ROW and 65' of pavement for a residential street. I should know how bad it is, it's in my neighborhood. Anyone care to guess how fast people drive on it? Hint: It is more than the posted 25mph. ;-)
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
SW MI Planner said:
I believe that wider roads encourage people to drive faster, as does the lack of objects along the road (parked cars, tree's, buildings, etc.).
I agree with this, and I think the answer to your question michaelskis is both bad drivers and bad design.

I think there is huge potential for traffic calming to influence driver behaviour, but not all traffic calming is (or should be) created equal. Traffic calming solutions need to be tailored to the local context in which they are being applied.

But even the best traffic calming won't stop some people from driving like idiots.
 

teshadoh

Cyburbian
Messages
435
Points
13
How does everyone feel about the localized view of bad drivers? I hear it all the time, "Where I come from people knew how to drive, but Atlanta drivers - they're terrible", despite the fact that many Atlanta drivers are from the same place the person is referring to. In addition, a typical news report will interview people concerning traffic - they often cite bad drivers for the main reason Atlanta has bad traffic.
 
Messages
4
Points
0
There's a town near where I live that I frequent. There, I find four-lane arterials with posted speed limits of 20-25mph. It is incredibly difficult to follow these speed restrictions, since the wide lanes and lack of activity on the side of the road occurs on most of the roads in the town. What makes it worse is that the police patrol these roads way too much, since there are a lot more of them and a lot less area to patrol, and everyone who speeds in that area should expect to receive a ticket.

By "bad drivers," do you mean drivers going too fast? Too slow? Reckless?

I sometimes look at someone as a bad driver, when I realise they're just following the speed limit. This typically occurs in the 'burbs, where the limits are low, the number of cars are high, and the amount of road furniture is low.

Sometimes I'll feel like I'm speeding down a road, then I realise I'm actually doing 5 under the speed limit. Other times I'll be going ten over, and feel like I'm crawling. This mostly occurs on wide roads with little or no activity on the side of the road.
 
Messages
101
Points
6
teshadoh said:
How does everyone feel about the localized view of bad drivers? I hear it all the time, "Where I come from people knew how to drive, but Atlanta drivers - they're terrible", despite the fact that many Atlanta drivers are from the same place the person is referring to. In addition, a typical news report will interview people concerning traffic - they often cite bad drivers for the main reason Atlanta has bad traffic.
I've made this observation many times myself. Two cliches are that "Atlanta has the worst drivers in the US" and "No one who lives in Atlanta is from here". So what gives? Are we being shipped all the worst drivers from across the nation.

My own view is that pedestrian rights aren't taken very seriously here, and the fact that most of the city's growth occured after WWII aggravates the situation. To me one priority in the city is to enforce the crosswalks ordinances so heavy-handedly that a culture develops of screeching to a halt when a pedestrian enters a crosswalks.

Aside from the above points I've heard these comments often:

"Boston drivers are the worst in the world."
"Miami drivers are the worst in the world"
"New York drivers are the worst in the world"

And so forth ad infinitum ...
 

nuovorecord

Cyburbian
Messages
444
Points
13
I've heard a number of pedestrian advocates and planners state that "People are the best traffic calming device known to mankind." They have a good point. Design a neighborhood with lots of places that attract people, combined with on-street parking, a narrow ROW and traffic will generally slow down.
 
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