Traffic Calming in Your Neighbourhood

Traffic CalmingWhenever I make a public presentation and then open the floor to questions people always highlight the traffic problems in their neighbourhoods and ask why the police never seem to be doing anything about them. I always feel inadequate when I point out that those same problems exist everywhere in our community and the police can only be there occasionally.

Perhaps the two largest contributors to what we are now seeing as a problem are current road designs and driver behaviour.

For the most part, our neighbourhood streets are designed to move motor vehicles. They are as straight and wide as possible with few view obstructions. A sample street in Parksville is a good illustration. Give a driver an opportunity to use the wide open spaces and they will choose a speed to suit, regardless of the speed limit.

The use of streets for anything other than driving is illustrated by this story from Chemainus where a strata property is seeking to prohibit street use by anyone other than drivers.

This raises the second issue and that is we tend to drive as individuals, often giving little thought to sharing with anyone else. Here I mean sharing in a broad sense, rather than just making room for another driver. Traveling at an appropriate speed, making room for cyclists and pedestrians, parking in an appropriate spot and many other actions that demonstrate something other than "Me First!"

Since the police are only part of the solution, what are the alternatives? Enforcement is only one tool among many and police operate as a service, where municipal traffic staff often do not. I was surprised to find out that the last staff member I contacted told me that city policy allowed him up to one year to respond to a request.

That staff member is part of an alternative that is gaining popularity, and it is one that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year long. Traffic calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users.

In the past, the most common traffic calming measure was to put up stop signs that inconvenienced drivers and forced them onto other routes. Today many alternatives exist, such as speed humps (longer than speed bumps), chicanes, chokers, and traffic circles. All of these allow the passage of traffic, but at a slower pace than normal street construction.

Implementing these alternatives will require the participation of your neighbourhood and the municipal government.

To assist, our provincial government has started to publish the Community Road Safety Toolkit as part of our road safety strategy:

The B.C. Community Road Safety Toolkit is an easily-accessible and electronically-searchable knowledge source about road safety designs and strategies that local governments can implement to improve road safety outcomes. At the same time, the knowledge in the toolkit is intended for all agencies with a mandate related to road safety.

There is a simple strategy that we can all implement immediately. Don't be the problem in someone else's neighbourhood!



Traffic calming is another

Traffic calming is another incorrect form of response to local traffic problems, many times it is used to no avail, and there is the occasional time when a chicane or road narrowing helps remedy a problem.

Traffic calming measures are only implemented if a certain percentage of area residents agree to have them installed. Also, many people whom live close to you, are part of the problem that require the need for traffic calming measures, so getting them to sign for consent to implement some form of traffic calming is not going to happen. So even if a few of your local neighbors agree to have something done, it may not go through, because others won't agree to it.

People need to be accountable for their actions, period.

If local municipal Government cannot see a problem in a City as a whole, and have Police deal with accountability of bad drivers, then they need step down. Implementing traffic calming measures to slow traffic down; at the taxpayers cost is ridiculous. If anyone should pay for anything, it's those responsible for breaking laws and showing disrespect, not your average good-natured Citizen.

Traffic Law enforcement is desperately needed, and is the correct solution. Those drivers who are not following laws, and that are showing a lack of disrespect for residents should be the ones paying for a policing service to police them in lieu of traffic fine revenue.

Traffic calming is not the solution, but most times, a temporary band-aid remedy.

"Incorrect response"?

Give me a break!

Traffic calming can be an effective solution; expecting a cop on every corner in order to make drivers 'behave' is an impossibility.

For sure, there are Traffic Engineers who go totally overboard with the speed humps and so on, just as the Police Forces seem to pay ever less attention to driving issues, citing other priorities.

Traffic calming is not the solution, but most times, a temporary band-aid remedy.

Crap. How can making changes to roadway be considered 'temporary'? Changes made to a roadway are pretty much permanent, unless they come along later and make more changes.

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