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The Need for Traffic Calming

Roadways, sidewalks, and intersections exist to facilitate the efficient flow of people and vehicles. But in many areas, that flow of traffic can be too fast and dangerous for the safety of pedestrians and drivers alike. That’s why traffic calming techniques exist: to put the brakes on speed and promote safety. While traditional speed bumps and humps are an obvious choice for traffic calming, there are other alternative solutions that are becoming increasingly popular. In this article, we’ll explore the various alternatives to speed bumps, from traffic circles and raised intersections to chicanes and narrowed lanes. Read on to learn more about the different traffic calming techniques and which best fits the needs of your community.


Alternative Solutions to Speed Bumps

When looking for alternative solutions to speed bumps, there are a variety of traffic calming techniques that can be employed to address the issue of dangerous speeds on residential roads. These techniques are designed to reduce the speed of vehicles on local roads, thus decreasing the risk of personal injury or property damage. Some of the most common traffic calming techniques include:

1. Speed cushions: Speed cushions are small humps on the road designed to reduce vehicle speed without completely blocking the road. They are typically installed on narrow roads, and they cause vehicles to slow down without having to navigate a full-size speed bump.

2. Raised intersections: Raised intersections are elevated sections of roadway, typically at intersections, that require drivers to slow down in order to navigate the raised area. This is a good option for roads with a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic that might be at risk of collision with faster moving vehicles.

3. Speed strips: Speed strips are a visual indicator that remind drivers to slow down. They are a series of raised ridges placed across the road, which cause vehicles to bounce over them, alerting drivers of their presence and reminding them to slow down.

4. Traffic circles: Traffic circles are a set of islands installed around a roundabout-style intersection. They force drivers to slow down as they negotiate their way around the circle, thus providing greater safety to pedestrians and bicyclists that may be crossing or traveling around the circle.

5. Speed humps: Speed humps are a full-size speed bump that requires vehicles to slow down over the hump. These are most effective when installed in sections with several humps in succession, forcing drivers to maintain slower speeds.

These traffic calming techniques can all be used to reduce the speed of vehicles on local roads and help make them safer for everyone. By working with local elected officials and transportation authorities, communities can work together to find the best option for their area and create a safer and more enjoyable residential environment for all.

Traffic Circles

Traffic circles, also known as roundabouts, are becoming increasingly popular as an effective and attractive alternative to speed bumps for calming traffic. They provide a safe, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing way to manage traffic speeds, allowing for smoother and more continuous travel for vehicles.

Though the design of traffic circles have been around for centuries, they are enjoying an increased level of popularity in modern times. This is due to the fact that they are able to provide similar speed-calming results as speed bumps, while being much more visually appealing and environmentally friendly. Traffic circles also cause less wear and tear on vehicles, making them a great long-term investment in terms of sustainability.

Traffic circles work by forcing drivers to negotiate a tight turn while entering the roundabout, thus slowing down the speed of their vehicle and creating an automatic awareness of their surroundings. Once inside the roundabout, vehicles move in a continuous direction, so there is little or no chance of collision. This also helps to reduce congestion, ease traffic flow and make roadways safer for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

One of the major benefits of traffic circles is their cost efficiency. They are much less expensive to install and maintain compared to speed bumps and other traffic calming measures. Additionally, because of their continuous flow, traffic circles can actually reduce the number of traffic signals, stop signs and other traffic control measures needed to regulate the flow of traffic.

Despite the cost and efficiency benefits, traffic circles also have their drawbacks. They require a larger space to accommodate them, so they may not be suitable in areas of limited space. Additionally, some drivers may be unfamiliar with the rules of navigating a roundabout, which could lead to confusion and potentially dangerous situations.

Overall, traffic circles can be a great traffic calming solution for many streets and communities. They are cost effective and sustainable, and can be a great way to improve the efficiency and attractiveness of a neighborhood. Drivers who are unfamiliar with roundabouts should take the time to familiarize themselves with the rules of the road before navigating them.

Speed Humps

Speed humps are one of the most popular traffic calming techniques used to slow down cars and other vehicles on roads and streets. Speed humps, also known as speed bumps, are raised strips of reflective material that are placed across the road at regular intervals. The height of the humps creates a bumpy surface, and when vehicles travel over it, the bumpiness creates a physical barrier between the car and the pavement to slow down the car as it passes over it.

Speed humps are typically placed at one-mile intervals, but that can vary depending on the size of the road and the amount of traffic it carries. The height of the hump should be between 3 and 4 inches, so that it’s low enough to cause minimal disruption to drivers, while still providing the necessary effect of slowing traffic down. The bumps should also be well-marked with yellow reflective paint or markings in order to make them visible to drivers.

Speed humps are a great option for roads with moderate volumes of traffic, as they offer a simple and effective way to reduce average speed. When implemented correctly, they can help to reduce accidents and improve safety. However, speed humps can create unwanted safety hazards if they’re used in the wrong way. If they’re placed too close together or too close to corners, they can cause a sudden drop in speed which can cause drivers to lose control of the vehicle. Additionally, speed humps can make roads noisier, so they should be used with caution.

When considering the use of speed humps, it’s important to consider all the potential implications and the local context. The humps should be properly evaluated for their effectiveness in slowing traffic and improving safety, before making a decision to install them. Additionally, if speed humps are used, they should be carefully maintained in order to keep them functioning properly.

Raised Intersections

Raised intersections, also known as speed tables, are a traffic calming technique designed to reduce the speed of vehicles entering or exiting intersections. They are essentially “speed bumps” raised to the same height as the road surface, giving the driver the perception of an even transition which reduces the likelihood of a driver taking the corner too quickly or at a dangerous speed. Raised intersections are typically constructed using asphalt, concrete or steel, and are approximately four feet in width at the highest point.

Raised intersections can serve as an alternative to traditional speed bumps, as they are a more subtle type of traffic calming method. By providing drivers with a level transition, drivers are able to maintain a more constant speed and are less likely to take corners too quickly. Additionally, a raised intersection can be constructed in the same material as the road surface, making the transition easier to navigate and less jarring than a speed bump.

Raised intersections also have many other benefits that can contribute to safe driving. They are less disruptive to emergency vehicles, as the transition is smoother and the intersection will still allow for emergency vehicles to drive through even if the raised section is damaged. Moreover, raised intersections also provide a much increased field of vision for drivers, as the transition around the intersection gives drivers a better view of potential hazards. Finally, raised intersections are also much more aesthetically pleasing than traditional speed bumps, and can provide a more attractive entryway to a neighborhood.

Raised intersections are not suitable for all locations, however, and care must be taken in choosing the proper type and design of the intersection. In some locations, a raised intersection may not be suitable due to the geometry of the intersection, or the speeds of vehicles. Additionally, in locations with a large population of pedestrians, raised intersections can also prove dangerous, as the raised surface provides a potential tripping hazard.

Ultimately, raised intersections can serve as a valuable tool in keeping the roads safe by providing an alternative to traditional speed bumps. By offering a smoother transition and improved field of vision, raised intersections can be an effective way to reduce speed and improve driver safety.


Chicanes are a traffic calming technique that has been used for hundreds of years to reduce vehicle speeds in areas with high pedestrian or cyclist traffic. Originally installed in the UK in the early 1900s, chicanes are a series of alternating curves, often with raised islands, intended to disrupt the linear flow of traffic. Typically located in residential streets, they are designed to be as minimally disruptive to vehicular traffic as possible while discouraging drivers from taking shortcuts or speeding through residential neighborhoods.

Modern chicanes are generally constructed with a series of alternating curves, spaced about 9-15 meters apart depending on the street width and speed desired. The curves are typically designed to cause vehicles to slow down to a maximum speed of 12-15 mph, making them a less intrusive alternative to speed bumps. Additionally, chicanes are sometimes fitted with raised kerbs to further encourage slower speeds.

Chicanes can be an effective traffic calming technique when correctly implemented and properly enforced. They have been found to reduce vehicle speeds by up to 15%, increase cyclist and pedestrian safety, and reduce noise and air pollution. However, due to their disruptive nature, chicanes can also cause delays to vehicles and can be dangerous for cyclists if not designed correctly.

For these reasons, chicanes should be planned and designed with the recommendations of local traffic engineers and the input of local residents in order to ensure they are effective and safe. For example, chicanes should be designed with adequate sight distance, clear delineation of the lane changes, and signage in order to ensure that drivers are aware of the upcoming chicane and can safely maneuver it.

In general, chicanes can be an effective traffic calming technique when implemented and enforced properly. By reducing speeds and improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, chicanes can be an attractive alternative to speed bumps.

Narrowed Lanes

One traffic-calming technique that has been widely used in recent years is narrowed lanes. This involves narrowing the width of existing lanes, which forces cars to slow down and take greater care in maneuvering around the street. Narrowed lanes also decrease the amount of space available for cars, making it more difficult for drivers to pass one another or to make unsafe lane changes.

Narrowed lanes can be created in a variety of ways. One option is to reduce the width of an existing lane from 12 feet to 10 or 11 feet. This is an effective and low-cost option that is widely used in urban areas. Another option is to create a lane that is narrower than standard, such as an eight- or nine-foot lane. This type of lane is best used in areas that do not experience high volumes of traffic and can be used to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

In addition to reducing the width of an existing lane, it is also possible to create narrower lanes by putting in a center lane that is wider than the other lanes. This center lane is typically used for bicycles, and can be a great way to improve cyclist safety while still allowing cars to move around the street.

When designing narrowed lanes, it is important to take into account the speed and flow of traffic, as well as the type of vehicles that use the street. In some cases, narrowed lanes can lead to increased congestion, particularly during rush hour. It is also important to consider how narrowed lanes fit into the overall design of the street, and to make sure they are designed to be safe and effective.

Overall, narrowed lanes are an effective and low-cost solution for improving traffic-calming in urban areas. They can be used to reduce speeds, improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, and help to create a more pleasant and efficient experience for drivers.


In conclusion, there are many alternatives to speed bumps that exist that can be used to help improve road safety and reduce traffic speed. From traffic calming circles to speed humps, these road designs and devices can help slow drivers down and make roads safer for all drivers. Additionally, these designs can reduce the amount of noise created by speeding cars, and can add an aesthetic appeal to an area. Furthermore, these alternatives are often much less intrusive than speed bumps and can often be installed in roads that don’t have enough room for a speed bump. Finally, these traffic calming techniques are often much cheaper than speed bumps and can be used in a variety of situations. All in all, it is important for drivers to be aware of the alternatives to speed bumps to help make roads safer for everyone.