Publication

Traffic calming schemes

Opportunities and implementation strategies

Author(s)

Schagen (ed.), Ingrid van

Year

2003

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Commissioned by the Swedish National Road Authority, the current report aims to provide a concise overview of knowledge of and experiences with traffic calming schemes in urban areas, both on a technical level and on a policy level. Traffic calming refers to a combination of network planning and engineering measures to enhance road safety as well as other aspects of liveability for the citizens. More specifically, in the current report the starting point is that traffic calming schemes in residential areas aim to discourage motorized through-traffic to enter the area and to achieve an appropriate, safe speed of remaining motorized traffic. Traffic calming at main urban roads aims to achieve an appropriate, safe speed. Urbanwide, traffic calming aims to reduce the volume of motorized traffic by providing safe and attractive facilities for alternative transport modes such as cycling and walking. The report discusses various characteristics of the urban network which are relevant for meeting the objectives of traffic calming, such as the functional classification of the network, the network structure of residential areas, and the need for a safe and attractive network for pedestrians and cyclists. In addition the report discusses the use of technical road engineering measures to achieve an appropriate safe car speed. In particular in residential and shopping areas, network characteristics have to be supported by road engineering measures, so that through-traffic is avoided and remaining motorized traffic drives at a low speed and is subordinate to the other users of the area. On urban main roads, the possibilities of traffic calming are much more limited. The efficient processing of motorized traffic is one of the major functions of this type of roads. This would require higher speeds at the road sections and, hence physically separated pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Speed reduction, however, would need to be realized at intersections and at midblock pedestrian and bicycle crossings, since at these locations, cars and vulnerable road users have to mix. At an urbanwide level, a traffic calming policy aims at a reduction of the number of car trips. Safe and comfortable facilities, for pedestrians and cyclists, reliable, dense and cheap public transport facilities and restricted parking facilities in the city centre will make alternative transport modes more attractive. It is concluded that much is known about the technical opportunities of urban traffic calming. It is also concluded that traffic calming is effective in reducing car speeds, car traffic volumes, and road traffic crashes. However, getting traffic calming schemes actually implemented at a local level may appear to be difficult. In a general way, the support in society for the objectives and principles of traffic calming has been steadily growing, but at the level of concrete measures there are often controversies among the public and other stakeholders due to different interests and preferences. The report discusses the role of public participation, information, and education as means to facilitate the implementation phase. As the report states, an effective way to deal with contradictory interests and beliefs is public participation based on the principles of social marketing. Participation of citizens who are directly (e.g. residents) or indirectly (e.g. interest groups) involved is a useful instrument to identify the existing and experienced problems and the preferences and dislikes with regard to specific measures. This way, resistance may be minimized and support may be maximized. Platforms at a neighbourhood level or at a citywide level provide a workable structure for the participation process. They allow for a systematic exchange of information between participants about the problems, the underlying causal factors, the aims, and in relation to that, the possible solutions. In addition, public information and education remain essential instruments to back up traffic calming policies. Public information as a stand-alone measure generally does not influence behaviour to a large extent, but by increasing understanding and knowledge about the problem, the aim and the measures, it does add value to other measures such as road engineering measures. Public information is a one-way process that hardly can take account of different groups and different opinions in society. Education, even though it has a more limited range, has the advantage that it is provided on a bilateral or small group basis and allows for direct interaction between the 'messenger' and the 'receiver(s)'. Education also has the advantage that the effects of measures and/or particular behaviour strategies can be experienced and trained in practice. It is concluded that public participation, information and eduction, emphasizing the positive effects of traffic calming schemes in the widest sense can contribute substantially to the level of support in society.

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report

Report number

R-2003-22

Pages

56 + 1

Publisher

SWOV, Leidschendam