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  1. #1
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Traffic calming?

    Specifically, raised intersections.

    I was up in Ithaca, NY this weekend cycling in and around town. Ithaca has always been a very progressive *cough* liberal granola *cough* town (hey I like it), so I was not surprised to see that the town is in the process of installing raised intersections. I didn't drive over any of them but cycled over a number of them.

    I found them to be a non-factor for cycling (good) but have no clue of how effective they are at actually calming traffic (as I didn't drive over any). If they work, great, because they were really no problem to ride over on a bike. Anybody have any thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    On one street that I usually use on my commute to work there is about a mile that includes traffic calming furniture. I believe they all function as crosswalks also. They all look kind of like crosswalks at the top of the hump and most of them appear at intersections but some appear midblock. The speed limit on this street is 25 mph and they generally keep the cars down to the speed limit. Occasionally, there will be some silly person who will gun their engine between the humps before slowing down to 10-15 to go over the hump. I had the same non-effect on my cycling over them, even when I have a tail wind and good legs going 20-25 over them.

    On another street, that I occasionally take on the way to work, they have installed speed bumps but included cuts that allow bikes to get through. Cars can't avoid them. I suppose a motorcycle could. I say why not. I can't see why anyone can complain as long as it allows you to go over at the speed limit. Any complaint that the traffic furniture doesn't faciliate breaking the law would seem silly to me.

    I might be concerned if they caused a significant delay in the arrival of emergency vehicles, but I have never seen the stuff installed on more than a mile or so of street and always on quiet residential streets, not major arteries.

  3. #3
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Locally I have seen traffic circles installed as traffic calming devices... they seem to work, don't have the same negative image as speed bumps, and have no effect on cycling.

    Time will tell as they extend the project further along a somewhat major road that is also lined with homes... thus 25MPH limited.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Why not just use narrower lanes?

    It works better, and leaves more room for other projects...

  5. #5
    cyclotourist
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    What exactly are raised intersections?
    Like speed bumps (sleeping policemen) at cross-roads?
    Here they are installing a lot of traffic circles on residential streets.
    Great fun to zip around on your bike!

  6. #6
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    I believe the raised intersections work by breaking up the visual continuity of the street, rather than by imposing a physical restraint on speeding. An area of the street is raised a few inches with a slight incline from the rest of the street. Different colour paving may also be used in the raised area. I think they are better than speed bumps because they emphasize that there are other road users than cars.

  7. #7
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Here in Baltimore County, MD the brainiacs have a different sort of traffic calming idea....

    They build an island in the middle of the road or they narrow the road down, both which are dangerous for cylist. On one road I ride they have both. The road is one lane each way with parking on both sides - each lane being standard width -12' plus I will guess another 10' of width to park the cars.

    The problem with the 'traffic calming island' is that it forces the cars to move right in order to keep from hitting it - right into my riding area. If a car is overtaking me just before the Island, they will swerve over into my path or crowd me over. I always use a hand signal and move out into the lane to keep cars from trying to pass me there. The second one they neck down the road on both sides, taking up the parking lane with the curb so that I have to signal again and move left into the lane, out of the parking lane (assuming there are no cars as I always ride out of the 'door zone' which on this road is right on the while line).

    So, I say they suck.

  8. #8
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    As a snowplow driver I can tell you every traffic calming scheme sucks when your plowing! Circles, push outs, raised areas, narrow lanes all make a long hard job even longer and harder.

  9. #9
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplebiker
    Occasionally, there will be some silly person who will gun their engine between the humps before slowing down to 10-15 to go over the hump.
    My ex-wife did this once when I was with her. We were going down a long driveway into a parking lot, I pointed out that the purpose of the speed bumps was to slow traffic, not to test the accelerator and brakes. ;-)

    I always am amused at the lack of logic that certain people show for speed bumps. My old apartment had speed bumps in the parking lot and if someone was in front of me they would almost always accelerate hard between them, and then brake hard to a snail's pace to cross the bump. I drove a steady speed and caught up to them at each speed bump, never hitting the brakes, and only lightly feathering the accelerator to keep my speed reasonable. I suspect I got 4X the gas mileage as those who thought they were gaining ground... then slowing down as if their car didn't have shocks... And I got to my parking spot just as quickly. Of course, I gained even more gas mileage when I pedaled through.

    I actually like speed bumps when I am on my bike, they break up the rythm, and get me out of the saddle!
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  10. #10
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K6-III
    Why not just use narrower lanes?

    It works better, and leaves more room for other projects...
    Research compiled by the ITE shows that narrower lanes that have obstructions on either side, i.e. curbs, parked cars or traffic in adjacent lanes, do slow traffic compared to wide lanes, but simply narrowing the lane with edge striping (shoulders or bike lanes) is as likely to increase speeds as reduce them.

    The City of Raleigh did an experiment with lane narrowing via edgeline striping and found that the striping did not slow traffic speeds. This confirmed the traffic calming research results published by ITE.

    Using actual obstructions (more lanes per same road width, curbs closer together, or adding on-street parking) to slow traffic isn't good for cyclists because the proximity to most of these obstructions typically creates more danger for cyclists. Plain wide lanes allow drivers to pass cyclists without changing lanes; narrow lanes require drivers to change lanes to pass safely, which makes some cyclists feel intimidated and causes many of them to ride more dangerously, i.e. in the gutter, in the door zone, or on sidewalks.

    I prefer two-lane roads with nice wide (16'+) lanes over other designs for cycling. The cars keep the road swept pretty well and there is plenty of room for drivers to pass easily and safely.

    Mini-roundabouts and speed humps are effective ways to reduce average speeds and reduce cut-through traffic. I don't mind them when I'm cycling, as I don't need to do much more than keep both hands on the handlebars as I navigate them. I can handle most of them at my average cruising speed.

    -Steve

  11. #11
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplebiker
    On one street that I usually use on my commute to work there is about a mile that includes traffic calming furniture. I believe they all function as crosswalks also. They all look kind of like crosswalks at the top of the hump and most of them appear at intersections but some appear midblock. The speed limit on this street is 25 mph and they generally keep the cars down to the speed limit. Occasionally, there will be some silly person who will gun their engine between the humps before slowing down to 10-15 to go over the hump. I had the same non-effect on my cycling over them, even when I have a tail wind and good legs going 20-25 over them.

    On another street, that I occasionally take on the way to work, they have installed speed bumps but included cuts that allow bikes to get through. Cars can't avoid them. I suppose a motorcycle could. I say why not. I can't see why anyone can complain as long as it allows you to go over at the speed limit. Any complaint that the traffic furniture doesn't faciliate breaking the law would seem silly to me.

    I might be concerned if they caused a significant delay in the arrival of emergency vehicles, but I have never seen the stuff installed on more than a mile or so of street and always on quiet residential streets, not major arteries.
    The city where I live, Cary NC, uses a 25 mph design speed for its speed hump profile. Car drivers generally go between 20 and 25 over the humps. The street is posted 25, and most drivers don't seem to speed up much between the humps. There is one hump on the street directly in front of my house, and only rarely do I notice drivers rev their engines to accelerate after the hump.

    I like these humps much, much better than speed Bumps. My son really dislikes speed Bumps when we trailer him through parking lots that feature them.

    -Steve

  12. #12
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    If a road is engineered with traffic calming, it must support and encourage cyclist to use the center of the lanes. This means any road with such calming should not have bike lanes (This assumes that road with traffic calming are almost always <30mph roads.)

    If there are speed bumps (sharp <15mph, not humps <25mph) then they must have a cut out for cyclists in the center of the lane and the bump should extend the full width of the road/pavement. If there are humps they too must extend the full width of the pavement, but no center cut out is needed as they are comfortable to ride over.

    By far the most hazardous area I ride thru is a zone that varies between 15-25mph posted limit with humps and bumps, a bike lane with no bumps, multiple crosswalks, right turns, on street parking, etc. The only safe place to ride is in the center of the lane, but even so I often swoop around the bumps on my bike as they are far to jarring to take even at 15mph.

    So be very careful what you wish for with traffic calming, often the design may on surface seem to be better for bikes (i.e. slower cars) but in practice can create many more problems.

    Al

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    Here in Baltimore County, MD the brainiacs have a different sort of traffic calming idea....

    They build an island in the middle of the road or they narrow the road down, both which are dangerous for cylist. On one road I ride they have both. The road is one lane each way with parking on both sides - each lane being standard width -12' plus I will guess another 10' of width to park the cars.

    The problem with the 'traffic calming island' is that it forces the cars to move right in order to keep from hitting it - right into my riding area. If a car is overtaking me just before the Island, they will swerve over into my path or crowd me over. I always use a hand signal and move out into the lane to keep cars from trying to pass me there. The second one they neck down the road on both sides, taking up the parking lane with the curb so that I have to signal again and move left into the lane, out of the parking lane (assuming there are no cars as I always ride out of the 'door zone' which on this road is right on the while line).

    So, I say they suck.
    Lakewood, CO did this same kind of "calming" at the bottom of 20th Avenue. From the east, there is about a 200 foot drop in about half a mile which means that on a bike you can easily hit 40 mph. At the calming area, they intend for bikes to go off the road and onto a 8 ft. wide path on the side. At 40 mph, an 8 ft. path looks like a razor blade. I stay on the road because I can take the corners they put in at a much higher rate of speed than the cars but the car folks don't understand this and will try to accelerate to squeeze past me. Needless to say it takes nerves of steel to get through this mess. I usually avoid it unless I feeling particularly death defying.
    Stuart Black
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  14. #14
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    If a road is engineered with traffic calming, it must support and encourage cyclist to use the center of the lanes. This means any road with such calming should not have bike lanes (This assumes that road with traffic calming are almost always <30mph roads.)
    Yes, bike lanes on speed-humped roads are the worst. Drivers match my speed while beside me, maybe pull a little ahead, slow for a speed hump, then finally right-hook me. Ordinarily I would be in line with them at the same speed, but if I do that on a bike-laned road, they honk and fuss whenever I leave the bike lane.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    I saw the title of this thread and the first thing that popped into my head was "Rose Colored Windshields".
    Sunrise saturday,
    I was biking the backroads,
    lost in the moment.

  16. #16
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Lakewood, CO did this same kind of "calming" at the bottom of 20th Avenue. From the east, there is about a 200 foot drop in about half a mile which means that on a bike you can easily hit 40 mph. At the calming area, they intend for bikes to go off the road and onto a 8 ft. wide path on the side. At 40 mph, an 8 ft. path looks like a razor blade. I stay on the road because I can take the corners they put in at a much higher rate of speed than the cars but the car folks don't understand this and will try to accelerate to squeeze past me. Needless to say it takes nerves of steel to get through this mess. I usually avoid it unless I feeling particularly death defying.

    I guess slowing down is not an option?

  17. #17
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    I guess slowing down is not an option?
    It's a hill! It's a big mondo hill! It's a "I can go faster than the cars" hill! It's also a "hill on the other side" hill. So if you slow down you have to grunt up the other side which is no fun at all.

    I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it if the traffic designers would have thought about where cyclists are supposed to go and if the car drivers would recognize that I can go through it faster than they can. But they see a bike and of course they have to be in front of it.

    And, finally, I usually get stuck behind someone who is going the speed limit and they won't clear out of my way. I mean, I have to clear out of their way because they are traveling faster then me so I just want it to be fair.
    Stuart Black
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