About Traffic Calming
The term "Traffic Calming" is used to describe methods of altering the behavior of traffic to suit the character of the area it moves through. The most apt example of this character occurs where a local street is used by motorists as a shortcut from one arterial to another. Because cut-through traffic often moves faster than neighborhood traffic and there is a lot more of it, this use can severely degrade the character of the street. Increased volume and increased speed can lead to a more dangerous, less pleasant street and discourages its use by bicyclists, pedestrians and children.
Why Traffic Calming is Used
As concern over safety and the desire for improved pedestrian and bicycle safety increases, communities across the country are looking at installing traffic-calming measures to improve safety and reduce vehicle speed.
Traffic Calming is a form of traffic planning that seeks to equalize the use of streets among automobiles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and playing children. This is accomplished through the use of devices and techniques that reduce traffic volume and speed in neighborhoods while maintaining maximum mobility and access. Traffic calming also attempts to make drivers aware of the fact that they are sharing the space of a street with other users. – Cynthia Holye, "Traffic Calming", 1995.
Here in East Baton Rouge Parish, the need for traffic calming was brought about by the increased requests by neighborhood groups to "do something" about the quantity of traffic using their neighborhoods as cut-through thoroughfares.
The overriding purpose of traffic-calming devices is to discourage non-local traffic from cutting through neighborhoods. There are several other benefits to the process as well. Because many traffic-calming strategies reduce vehicle speeds for all the traffic on the street, safety on that street is increased. Many traffic calming strategies use landscaping and pavement treatments; these may serve to enhance the aesthetic look of the neighborhood.
Need for Traffic Calming
The need for traffic calming stems from an increase in complaints about traffic on neighborhood streets. Increased traffic through neighborhoods threatens the integrity and character of the neighborhood and puts non-motorists at risk. Limited resources of the City prevent comprehensive enforcement of speeds, volume, and safety.
The increase in traffic through neighborhoods is likely caused by one or more of the following:
- New development in neighborhood creating increased traffic
- Cut-through traffic avoiding congestion on arterial streets
- Re-routed neighborhood traffic due to obstacles at other outlets