Traffic calming with meaning

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This deceptively simple picture shows just how easy real traffic calming can be accomplished. The concrete planter / bollard on the right holds the traffic calming sign, reminding motorists the maximum speed limit is 30.

But that doesn’t mean you are entitled to do 30 kmh.

The speed limit sign and its pedestal take up half the traffic lane.

In the distance (double click picture to enlarge) are concrete planters smack dab in the middle of the traffic lanes. It is necessary to fully move over into the oncoming traffic lane in order to pass, as does the traffic coming towards you. It requires unusual motorist skills to actually look at the road, assess whether traffic is coming, make a decision as to when to move lanes, who has right of way, etc. In short, the motorist is engaged in driving rather than on autopilot.

Fences line the curbs, so there is no spare space. It looks like this zone is shared by people who walk, people who cycle, people who drive cars …. ┬áThe photo is “zoomed” in, so each of those barriers occur short blocks apart.

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, the traffic dept still has conniptions about expanding a local park onto the adjacent “parking lane”, never mind onto the traffic lane … and little “drive over” green speed limit wands are in the front line of traffic calming.

4 thoughts on “Traffic calming with meaning

  1. Simple, creative, solutions that can be put in place quickly, and removed during the winter months if snow removal becomes problematic, or if they don’t work.

  2. I’m all for traffic calming. I think we need more of it. But…

    As a cyclist, traffic calming in the form of obstacles on the right hand side of the road make me nervous. The north end of Kirkwood Avenue uses this approach. It also has speed bumps with recommended 30km/h limits.

    Unfortunately, the way it works is as follows. The cyclist sees the narrow roadway and takes the lane. The impatient motorist becomes the opposite of ‘calm’ and tries to squeeze through (sometimes into oncoming traffic), not wanting to slow down. Often, honking and swearing ensues.

    This behaviour is not justified but it happens. It makes the cyclist think it might be better to move to the right in between the obstacles. But then they have to try to ‘take back’ the lane at the next narrowing.

    The net result is a lot more risk imposed on the cyclist. A forced collision with one of those planters would be disastrous. How many demerit points would the driver receive for causing the death of a cyclist?

    It seems to me it would be better to impede the driver from the middle. It sends a different message. If the driver has to instead move onto the cyclists’ turf, they might feel more obligation to do so courteously and safely. The cyclist maintains a straight line and has a buffer to the right where there are fewer massive chunks of concrete to slam into. Of course, this approach is not as compatible with on-street parking, but don’t get me started on that…

    1. In my experience, unfortunately motorists do not respect cyclists’ turf on the right either. They use the bike lanes (demarcated with a white painline) as passing lanes or for parking all the time. And they get angry at cyclists when they try to go around them.

      I don’t have a solution, perhaps a segregated bike lane, which would eat into the greenspace in this picture?

      1. I think separated facilities are warranted when volumes or speeds are sufficiently high that mixing the modes — motorist, cyclist, pedestrian — is dangerous. This occurs on Roads. Scott, Albert, Bronson. On residential Streets like the one shown, the max. speed limit for EVERYONE should be very low, maybe 20kmh, in which case cyclists and motorists can mix safely and peds can establish eye contact with motorists to ensure their mutual safety. We must move beyond the 1950’s concept that streets are for cars, and everyone else is a trespasser. Streets are our public realm, our public places.

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