Traffic Calming FAQ

Traffic Calming FAQ

What is traffic calming?
Why is it important?
What are the goals of traffic calming?
Are there any drawbacks to it?
What types of traffic calming measures are there?
What types of traffic calming are appropriate for my street?
How do I request traffic calming?
What happens after I have requested traffic calming for my street?
Will I have an opportunity to comment on the plan?
What if my request is turned down by Council or rejected by my neighbours?
Can’t you just install an all-way stop sign or traffic signal?
How do you determine if the traffic calming plan worked?
And what if it doesn’t work?
How long does the design process usually take?
How long is the construction process?
Where can I learn more about traffic calming?
Who should I contact for additional information or if I have questions not addressed in this FAQ?
 
What is traffic calming?
Traffic calming is the use of mainly physical traffic management techniques to reduce the impacts of traffic on neighbourhood communities and other public facilities such as parks, school areas and ommunity centres. Traffic calming has been used in North America to: 

  • Improve neighbourhood liveability;
  • Increase road user safety; and
  • Promote urban redevelopment.

Why is it important? 
Urban sprawl and automobile dependency have resulted in significant traffic growth throughout North America. These trends in automobile travel can place considerable strain on the roadway network’s ability to safely accommodate all users within the public right-of-way. In many cases, a lack of arterial road capacity will cause motorists to choose collectors and local roads to bypass a congested turning movement, intersection or corridor. This inappropriate use of neighbourhood streets can have the following negative effects: 

  • Arterial road congestion can cause motorists to look for parallel or alternative routes to reach their destinations. These parallel/alternative roads then begin to take on greater traffic volumes and function in ways that were not intended at the time of planning. For example, a local road or collector becomes a mid-block arterial bypass;
  • Motorists operate vehicles at speeds which are not appropriate for the residential roadway and/or the roadside environment;
  • The safety of all road users is decreased due to volume, speed and other compliance issues; and/or
  • Resources are called upon to provide frequent enforcement of numerous problem areas.

 In general, the above impacts typically occur in older established neighbourhoods next to busy traffic areas. However, traffic issues can also occur in newer subdivisions depending on the road network and adjacent activities.
 
What are the goals of traffic calming?
Traffic calming may help to reduce vehicle speeds, the amount of non-local traffic that passes through a neighbourhood, collision severity and frequency, and the negative effects of motorized vehicles on the environment.
 
Are there any drawbacks to it?
Some traffic calming measures may account for minimal delays to emergency response times and cause discomfort to victims requiring emergency attention. Transit service may also experience minimal delays due to traffic calming measures. It should also be noted that during the winter season, snow removal operations may be somewhat delayed due to the additional time required to clear snow around the traffic calming measures.
 
What types of traffic calming measures are there? 

  1. Horizontal Deflection: Curb extensions, traffic circles/mini roundabouts,raised median islands, curb extensions, chicanes
  2. Vertical Deflection: Speed humps/tables/cushions, raised crosswalks, raised intersections
  3. Obstruction / Closure: Directional closures, right-in/right-out islands, raised medians, intersection channelization

 What types of traffic calming are appropriate for my street?
 It depends where you live. If your street is defined as a local road, almost any traffic calming measure may be considered for implementation. If you live on a collector or if your street is a transit route or primary emergency response route, then some measures will not be appropriate, but others will.  Our traffic calming policy does not permit traffic calming on arterials. This is because the function of arterials is to move traffic and the installation of restrictive measures on an arterial will likely shift traffic onto lower order roads and into neighbourhoods.
 
How do I request traffic calming?
Please submit a request in writing (e-mail or fax is acceptable) to Traffic Division :

Department of Engineering
P.O. Box 908
St. John’s, NL A1C 5M2
E-mail: trafficcalming@stjohns.ca
Fax: (709) 576-6100
 
What happens after I have requested traffic calming for my street?
City staff will assess your request against criteria established in our new traffic calming policy. This is a two-step process that first determines if minimum thresholds are met for criteria such as traffic volumes and speeds. If a location qualifies for traffic calming, it is then ranked against other requests to determine if and when a plan will be developed.  This ensures that all requests are evaluated consistently and that requests are addressed by need and priority. At least once a year, we will take potential traffic calming projects before City Council for their initial approval.
 
Will I have an opportunity to comment on the plan?
Of course! Public involvement is crucial to the success of the program, as the local residents are the ones who must live with the implemented solution. Once Council authorizes a plan to proceed, the resident (s) who submitted the original request for traffic calming will circulate a petition to you and your neighbours to determine your level of support. If the idea of traffic calming is supported, we will then develop a plan for the installation of traffic calming devices on your street. You will have the opportunity to review the plan after it is developed, and to either support or reject it. You will also be invited to any public meetings that are held as part of the project.
 
What if my request is turned down by Council or rejected by my neighbours?
Your street will not be eligible again for traffic calming consideration for a period of 24 months. The request will have to be re-submitted to initiate the process again.
 
Can’t you just install an all-way stop sign or traffic signal?
All-way stop signs and traffic signals are designed to control traffic, not to reduce speeds or volumes. As such, they are not considered traffic calming measures. While stop signs and signals may be appropriate in some cases, they must meet a separate set of criteria for implementation.
 
How do you determine if the traffic calming plan worked?
We will conduct a follow-up study six months after implementation to determine if the causes of the request have been addressed through the installation.
 
And what if it doesn’t work?
In some cases, traffic calming measures have had to be removed after installation because they did not address the problem. We are confident that our traffic calming policy and public involvement process will address the real problem. In the unlikely event that it doesn’t, we will remove the devices if required.
 
How long does the design process usually take?
All plans vary, but usually a plan can be prepared to go before the City Council in under 12 months.
 
How long is the construction process?
This will vary, as some plans are more extensive than others and it is also dependent on whether or not the construction is done by the City or a third party. Once ground is broken, most plans only take a few weeks to construct.
 
Where can I learn more about traffic calming?
There are a number of traffic calming websites, including:

Institute of Transportation Engineers
Transport Canada
United States Federal Highway Administration
TrafficCalming.org
 
Who should I contact for additional information or if I have questions not addressed in this FAQ?
Traffic Division – Department of Engineering
E-mail: trafficcalming@stjohns.ca
Phone: (709) 576-8402
Fax:  (709) 576-6100