#42 Traffic Calming: Keeping Our Streets Safe For All Modes of Transportation

42-traffic-calming-keeping-our-streets-safe-for-all-modes-of-transportation

Bumpouts mean more bike parking, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Steven Vance’s photostream

Traffic calming is a critical part of a complete streets approach to designing our streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes. Traffic calming can take a variety of forms and can be implemented on residential neighborhoods streets as well as in our busiest corridors around the city. The key is to take an approach that keeps everyone safe – from drivers, to pedestrians, to bicyclists – while keeping traffic flowing. Pittsburgh is an old city and many of our major thoroughfares were designed before modern traffic calming measures became commonplace, so we have some catch-up work to do to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone. The recent upticks in traffic incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians clearly mark the need for a more aggressive approach and we have the know-how and the partnerships to make it happen.

1. The Three Es: Engineering, Education, and Enforcement

Engineering, education, and enforcement are the three keys to any traffic calming measures. Approaching traffic calming without addressing each of these important aspects is ineffective and can even be counterproductive to the cause. Luckily, we are well-positioned to make significant progress on each one and through partnerships with groups like Bike Pittsburgh, our universities, our neighborhood associations, and national and international traffic safety groups, we can create a new network of complete streets that implement modern traffic calming measures.

Engineering: The engineering component to traffic calming involves changing the physical elements of streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks to make them safer for all modes of transportation. This can include things like curb bump-outs, speed humps, more clearly visible crosswalks, audible countdown signals at traffic lights, and other improvements. These physical upgrades require some resources up front but the savings in terms of safety far outweigh the costs.

Education: Making sure that users of all forms of transportation are aware of our traffic laws can sometimes be the most difficult part of implementing a comprehensive strategy but it is also one of the most important. Through public awareness campaigns, high-quality easily understandable signage and partnerships with neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations, we can make sure everyone is clear on the rules.

Enforcement: Neither engineering improvements nor education campaigns will work without proper enforcement of our laws. As Mayor, I will instruct our public safety professionals and others charged with enforcing these laws to step up their enforcement and crack down on those who are making our streets less safe.