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Traffic calming and effective street cross-sections
#1
I thought it would be interesting to get a discussion going about traffic calming - what's effective, what we have implemented, what we could try and so on. The impetus is largely the odd occasion of driving through the Doon area, which claims to use traffic-calming, but largely in the form of regular speed bumps. I happen to think this is largely ineffective and actually encourages more dangerous behaviour (heavy acceleration/deceleration) while also being quite disruptive. On the other hand, when my friend lived on Copper Leaf Crescent in Williamsburg, despite no built measures to calm traffic, the heavy use of on-street parking on both sides of the street and large number of people playing outside/walking etc. seemed very effective at slowing down traffic. Willis Way between Caroline and King is another example that seems very effective.

This leads me to feel slightly conflicted as most of the streets I can think of that are "calmed" have heavy use of on-street parking. On-street parking, however, is not great for cyclists who often end up riding in the door-zone. Bike-lanes also result in a wider ROW which should have the effect of traffic speed increasing. I have a few thoughts about what could be done to address this, but am interested in what others would consider best practices, and what others think we can realistically move toward here in Waterloo Region.
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#2
(07-19-2017, 07:20 AM)jamincan Wrote: I thought it would be interesting to get a discussion going about traffic calming - what's effective, what we have implemented, what we could try and so on. The impetus is largely the odd occasion of driving through the Doon area, which claims to use traffic-calming, but largely in the form of regular speed bumps. I happen to think this is largely ineffective and actually encourages more dangerous behaviour (heavy acceleration/deceleration) while also being quite disruptive. On the other hand, when my friend lived on Copper Leaf Crescent in Williamsburg, despite no built measures to calm traffic, the heavy use of on-street parking on both sides of the street and large number of people playing outside/walking etc. seemed very effective at slowing down traffic. Willis Way between Caroline and King is another example that seems very effective.

This leads me to feel slightly conflicted as most of the streets I can think of that are "calmed" have heavy use of on-street parking. On-street parking, however, is not great for cyclists who often end up riding in the door-zone. Bike-lanes also result in a wider ROW which should have the effect of traffic speed increasing. I have a few thoughts about what could be done to address this, but am interested in what others would consider best practices, and what others think we can realistically move toward here in Waterloo Region.

Segregated bike lanes address most of this — put them on the other side of the line of parked cars from the car traffic. Soon we’ll get to experience that here on King St.
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#3
My former neighbours on Peppler, interestingly enough, found that Peppler was a speedway because it was wide enough to park on both sides and still drive a car in between (parking is prohibited on the north side). They have lobbied to have speed humps or other physical obstructions put in place to slow drivers, because roads wide enough for three cars to relatively easily pass one another tend to feel very safe to speed at, even with the occasional parked car to gently weave ever-so-slightly around.
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#4
IMO, narrow lanes and narrower roads are the answer. The region standardizes on 11-12 foot lanes, (3.35-3.65 meter) lanes, which are well shown to encourage speeding.

City streets are a little different, but streets which have effectively a four lane cross-section, 2 parking lanes + 2 driving lanes with no markings and rarely any cars parked are going to have speeding as well.

Putting parked cars in bays would help, but also simply narrowing roads. 1 driving lane + 1 parking lane would be more than enough for most residential areas.

And then at the end of the day in addition to more safety we also have more money, more land, less environmental issues, I mean, for people who complain about government waste, this should be their dream issue.
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#5
I agree that narrowing lanes and roads are the best form of traffic calming. As you say, jamincan, speed bumps and humps can have the perverse outcome of encouraging motorists to accelerate and decelerate fast between them. And cars are not parked all of the time, so street parking, though it has plenty of benefits, can not alone be counted on for traffic calming.

And danbrotherston, you're right that there are tonnes of other benefits. Apart from saving the costs of building and maintaining all of that excessive road width, we also reduce impermeable surface area (something municipalities around here are paying property owners to do on private property), and increase green space. Narrow every residential street by three feet, I say, and there would be no impact on traffic flow (just speed), but all of a sudden we would again have space on those streets for a boulevard with street trees. I could go on about all of the follow-on impacts of that (less crime, higher property values, better air quality, better health, happier citizens).
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#6
I had thought the speed bumps installed on Pioneer and Bechtel were a response to kids racing at night.
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#7
I long for the day when V2V will effectively make speeding impossible. Just like ATP on a railway, if the limit is 40 km/h, you'll be able to go no faster.

...and I say this as both a cyclist and a driver: I hate driving on Middle Block road, posted at 50... because when I go 50 across it, by the time I'm at the end, there's a line of 8 fuming drivers behind me wondering why I'm not doing 70 or 80.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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#8
(07-19-2017, 08:15 AM)danbrotherston Wrote: IMO, narrow lanes and narrower roads are the answer.  The region standardizes on 11-12 foot lanes, (3.35-3.65 meter) lanes, which are well shown to encourage speeding.

City streets are a little different, but streets which have effectively a four lane cross-section, 2 parking lanes + 2 driving lanes with no markings and rarely any cars parked are going to have speeding as well.

Putting parked cars in bays would help, but also simply narrowing roads.  1 driving lane + 1 parking lane would be more than enough for most residential areas.

And then at the end of the day in addition to more safety we also have more money, more land, less environmental issues, I mean, for people who complain about government waste, this should be their dream issue.

Don’t you know, money spent on asphalt is never wasted, as long as the purpose is for motor vehicles to drive on?

It’s totally different if the purpose is for bicycles to use. Then it’s a waste. Stick with the gravel please, I’m overtaxed.
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#9
(07-19-2017, 08:45 AM)MidTowner Wrote: I agree that narrowing lanes and roads are the best form of traffic calming. As you say, jamincan, speed bumps and humps can have the perverse outcome of encouraging motorists to accelerate and decelerate fast between them. And cars are not parked all of the time, so street parking, though it has plenty of benefits, can not alone be counted on for traffic calming.

This can work for new roads.  But for existing roads, speed humps (shallow humps really work better than sharp bumps, allowing cars to travel at a reasonable steady speed) and stop signs are significantly less expensive options -- and usually less contentious with the residents of the neighbourhood.
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#10
Stop signs are overused to the point of being ignored. One of reason roundabouts seem so foreign to many is the lost art of yielding because we have stop signs and a me first attitude everywhere.
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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#11
I do agree. But they are very cheap and easy so they get used a lot.
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#12
Yes, stop signs and cheap and easy. What was the third part of the triangle again?

I think speed humps and bumps can be contentious, too. I wonder to what extent narrowing a street would be (do we ever actually do this for traffic calming reasons? if so, is there really opposition?). It's true that it's not cheap or easy, but during a reconstruction could be done and then would reduce ongoing road maintenance costs.
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#13
I had the good luck of growing up in a neighbourhood where Yield signs were the norm. It meant that regular driving habits were legal, and when you encountered a Stop sign, you actually obeyed it.
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#14
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but when I lived in England I saw that many residential streets (two-lane) had a one-lane chokepoint (no idea of the proper name) every so often. This was also a crossing point for pedestrians. Only one car could go through at a time. I'm certain this was a traffic calming measure designed to slow down the boy racers. Smile
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#15
Adding a bunch of stop signs is hugely inefficient. So much fuel is wasted in the deceleration/stop/acceleration cycle. A better solution is to provide a design that allows a car to continue at a constant, lower speed. Fuel consumption is minimized this way.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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