Pay attention to these traffic calming techniques that may show up on a street near you!
Pittsburghers are now getting used to seeing speed humps pop up on their streets. While the effect of speed humps are obvious, there are other tools in the traffic engineer’s toolkit to also help slow vehicles to the speed limit.
Design guides such as the PennDOT Traffic Calming Handbook and the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide offer city planners and engineers a suite of interventions to help control the speed of vehicles, and ultimately increase the safety of our streets. There is no cookie-cutter approach to traffic calming, so it’s good to know about the features that, when applied in the appropriate context, can help create better places to live, walk, bike and drive.
Chicanes and Roadway Curvature
Chicanes are a horizontal treatment that reduces vehicle movement and narrows the roadway. They can be painted or include flex posts. This treatment slows vehicle speeds by diverting the path of travel. Certain designs may even increase the amount of sidewalk width, buffer width, or both.
Median Crossing Islands
Median Crossing Islands narrow the roadway and protect crossing pedestrians and bicyclists by slowing motor vehicle speeds, increasing motor vehicle yielding, increase pedestrian visibility, provide a pedestrian waiting area, and allow for two-stage crossings for slower pedestrians. You can find Median Crossing Islands on 40th St, Dallas Ave, and Frankstown Ave.
Curb Extensions and Bulb Outs
Curb Extensions, also known as Bulb Outs or Bump Outs, work by: shortening the pedestrian crossing distance, increasing pedestrian comfort and visibility, narrowing the roadway to slow speeds, preventing cars from parking near the corners, and reducing vehicular turning speeds. Cities can use lower cost alternatives like bollards, flexible delineator posts, planters, paint or striping to create these extensions. Bump outs also serve to increase the size of the sidewalk. There are many Pittsburgh streets that have installed bump outs.
Mini Traffic Circles
Mini traffic Circles work by reducing vehicle through speeds, eliminating left turn crashes, and reducing right turn speeds at low speed and low volume intersections. Introduced in 2021 onto Pittsburgh streets, these have been used effectively on such streets as Euclid Ave, Reynolds St, and Coral St.
Speed Tables are slightly different than Speed humps. Speed tables are mid-block pedestrian traffic calming devices that raise the entire wheelbase of a vehicle to reduce its traffic speed. Speed tables are longer than speed humps and are flat-topped, and unlike speed humps, are intended to accommodate pedestrians in addition to slowing vehicles. There are not many Speed Tables in Pittsburgh, but you can visit one on Living Pl at Bakery Square in East Liberty.
High Visibility Crosswalks
High Visibility Crosswalks improve the visibility of pedestrians to approaching motorists. They help reduce crashes between pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles.