By Dom Nozzi
Here is what I had to say in my Road to Ruin book about humps:
“Speed humps also reduce vehicle speeds and at the same time reduce accident rates, or at the least do not increase them, according to the Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE). Humps cause drivers little or no discomfort if we are going less than 25 mph, and they need to be spaced close enough to each other so that we cannot speed from one to the next. The ITE has found that despite concerns about liability, vehicle damage, and emergency vehicle impacts, these problems have not occurred or have been found to be insignificant when considering the positive effects of humps.”
“In fact, such modest physical reconfiguration of streets has proven the only reliable and cost-effective way to slow and control traffic. Despite the conventional wisdom, neither stop signs nor posted speed limits affect overall traffic speeds or control speeding.”
However, since I wrote that book, I have come to learn from Dan Burden, the road diet and roundabout guru, that humps tend to be over-used by most communities, and often degrade the quality of a neighborhood street. Dan also makes the important point that unlike horizontal interventions such as chicanes and bulb-outs, vertical treatments such as humps can be quite detrimental to emergency response vehicles. He generally discourages the use of humps, and I agree with him that there are a number of calming treatments that are far superior to humps. He points out that elected officials tend to over-use humps because they are relatively cheap.
And therefore a low-cost way to placate citizens angry about speeding traffic.
In general, I am thoroughly convinced that one of the most effective ways to improve neighborhood and town center quality of life, safety, and economics is to slow motor vehicles using calming methods. I particularly like on-street parking and relatively narrow travel lanes. My favorite street type is the “give-way” street, where motorists are obligated to “give-way” to an approaching car because two cars cannot find the width to pass each other unless one moves aside. This obligates much safer, attentive, slower speeds.
And therefore more humanized vehicular travel that is much more conducive to the human habitat.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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