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Posted by on Sep 20, 2009 in General | 33 comments

Traffic Calming: What does it say about us?

winston

This is Winston Rd. It’s not a collector or a through street. It has five speed humps in 4/10 of a mile. Why? Because some motorists would use it as a secondary cut-through to escape the speed humps on their primary cut-through. And because the people who live on the side streets in this neighborhood speed down this street to get to theirs.

Traffic calming is a social indicator

Speed bumps, pinch-points and the like have long irritated me. Not because they slow me down—I don’t speed—but because they’re a painful reminder of the hyper-individualism, selfishness and disrespect that plagues our communities and our traffic culture. And worse, they’re symbolic of our society’s unwillingness to solve core problems, instead opting for inadequate band-aids to control the symptoms while the disease rages on.

Traffic calming is a hardware solution to a software problem.
—John S. Allen

Worse, most of these pseudo-solutions have unintended consequences that disproportionately punish the innocent.

Traffic calming that punishes cyclists

Yes, yes, I know, traffic calming slows motorist speeds. But, in my experience, it also creates unnecessary and uncomfortable conflicts with motorists. Physical traffic calming does not solve the core attitude problem behind the behavior, so it simply creates new behavior problems.

brickhump

Humps on Plaza Terrace drive are bone-jarring. They also require car drivers to slow to 15mph or less. Most motorists accelerate between them — increasing noise, fuel consumption and emissions. Emergency vehicles must slow to 10mph to go over these.

Speed bumps: A well-designed speed hump is not a problem for a cyclist. We hardly notice them. Fast cyclists can sometimes make use of good speed humps to ride the speed of traffic (this works best if the motorists maintain a constant speed between the humps). Bumps and badly-designed tables (like the brick-like-things Orlando uses) are not so kind. They are bone-jarring—far more uncomfortable for cyclists than for the guy sitting in a cushioned bucket seat on 4 fat tires with shock absorbers. All he has to do is slow down. We get jammed at any speed, and we weren’t the ones causing the problem that warranted the device in the first place!

Another common problem I’ve had with speed bumps stems directly from their inadequacy to “calm” traffic. Many motorists insist on trying to gun it to pass me between the bumps, even when I’m maintaining a consistent average speed that is no less than what they are capable of. Why? Partly because they have a mental defect that makes them have to pass a cyclist no matter what and partly because motorists speed between speed bumps to make up for the lost time of having to slow down for them (this is especially true on Orlando roads where the speed domes require speeds much lower than the speed limit). I have lost count of how many times I’ve had a motorist race past me between bumps, then cut back in and slam on the brakes in my face.

Neck-downs and medians: My first real experience with these gems was on Kewannee Rd. Kewannee is a major bike route for groups and solo cyclists. The road is wide. Left alone, the lanes would probably be shareable. Unfortunately, Kewannee is also a cut-through for motorists trying to avoid traffic on arterial roads.

kewannee1

The Kewannee gutter lane

So, first came the white lines (far enough in to appear as though the space to the right is a bike lane, but not far enough to actually be one—no matter, cyclists don’t know the difference). I suspect this was all part of the junk science nonsense about visually narrowing the lane to calm traffic. You can be set straight on that BS here.

kewannee2

As you can see, they’ve done a fabulous job of maintaining it.

Much like determined 2-year-olds, cut-through drivers aren’t so easy to deter. So the next solution was to add a bunch of concrete structures to physically narrow the lane at regular intervals. These had the cute feature of routing bicycle traffic from the substandard gutter lane into an actual gutter. Don’t you feel special?

I cannot remember if they originally had a sign indicating that space was for bikes (it’s been a long time), but it was quite clear, especially when the paint was fresh… and before the gutter filled with sand and grew its own ecosystem. I’ve seen less-insulting applications of this type of traffic calming, but it has the same problem—debris accumulates where street sweepers can’t get to it.

kewannee3

On the south end of Kewannee, medians were used to narrow the lanes. Bicycles were not rerouted here, instead a white curb was placed in the gutter lane. That’s probably necessary, since gutter riders would be sideswiped if they rode through the pinch in that space. However, if they’re not paying attention, they’ll get a rude surprise.

gutterlanedebris

Debris accumulates in the gutter lane, creating an additional hazard for cyclists trying to accommodate passing motorists between the pinch-points.

Aside from the dumb design, these regular pinch points create overtaking problems for motorists, which then increases their frustration and, likewise, the burden and discomfort for cyclists. A cyclist, or group of cyclists, riding upwards of 15mph really has to claim the lane for the entire length of the road. So, between the curves, the oncoming traffic and the pinch points, motorists get stuck behind cyclists. It looks to them like the cyclists should move over into that “bike lane,” but doing so will only cause them to get trapped there as they come upon the next obstacle. Motorists get mad at the cyclists and either harass them or take stupid chances with unsafe passes. I’ve seen a lot of close calls and flared tempers on that road. One evening, a motorist slammed on the brakes hard enough to lay rubber, narrowly avoiding slamming into one of the medians. For a moment, I was afraid he was going to try to cut back in and wipe out our small group.

I really don’t appreciate being pitted against cut-through motorists, who are already a hostile and disrespectful species.

Bricks: Traffic calming with snob appeal. Bricks are the most insidious traffic calming device in Central Florida. Their rampant use shows a blatant disregard for bicyclist level of service (BLOS) and bike route connectivity. Winter Park is the worst offender, but other communities like Sanford and Orlando are doing it, too.

Old bricks on a residential street in Winter Park

Old bricks on a residential street in Winter Park

There are different kinds of brick around here. A lot of old neighborhood streets have original brick. In fact,  a lot of paved roads in Orlando are paved over the original brick foundations.

The old brick tends to have an undulating surface with little mounds and dips, but the actual bricks are worn smooth and the space between them is filled with mossy vegetation. These roads are not ideal for cycling, but they’re not as bad as they might seem. You have to pick your way around some of the mounds and dips, but the surface isn’t jarring.

New traffic calming bricks on Lake Sue Blvd. in Winter Park. The surface looks flat, but the bricks are designed and laid to create nearly-intolerable vibration (at any speed).

New traffic calming bricks on Lake Sue Blvd. in Winter Park. The surface looks flat, but the bricks are designed and laid to create nearly-intolerable vibration.

The new brick, OTOH, is purposely designed to be jarring. In addition, it’s rarely laid properly, so it gets loose and forms nasty depressions and upheavals. Most applications of the new brick are virtually impossible to ride on. Some applications, like Lake Sue Blvd./Pennsylvania Ave., are so horrible I avoid driving my car on them. Many residents of these streets are also finding that they create a tremendous amount of noise and are accelerating the deterioration of the tires on their cars.

Poorly laid bricks on Thornton Ave in Orlando. As bad as they are, these do little to reduce the speed of motorists headed for the expressway.

Loose, poorly-laid bricks on Thornton Ave in Orlando. As bad as they are, these do little to reduce the speed of motorists headed for the expressway.

What’s so cruel is that this traffic calming method is quickly eating up the quiet connector streets that have long been bicycle routes—official and unofficial. Most of the roads through Winter Park that I traveled a decade ago from Maitland to Orlando are now unrideable. I’ve had to divert to less desirable and less direct routes.

It’s pretty hard to promote active transportation in a city that insists on systematically destroying low-volume bike routes. (And they had the nerve to apply for a BFC award. What a joke.)

derbyshire

Poor-man’s traffic calming. This buckled pavement is the southern equivalent of frost heaves. In direct sunlight, you can’t see the depressions, but they are brutal—miserable in a car, impossibly painful on a bike.

Bad pavement is a similar, but more passive-aggressive, form of traffic calming. Basically, they refuse to fix a bad surface because the rough ride slows motorists. It’s also brutal for cyclists, but, hey, who cares. Winter Park would do this for years and then eventually rip it up and brick the street.

Gratuitous stop signs: It’s pretty well known that stop signs are a sought-after speed control device. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why neighborhood stop sign infestations are annoying to cyclists. But before we go off on the popular cries for special cyclist-specific permissions, let’s take a look at the other consequences of the misuse of stop signs. Here are just a few:

  • Reduced safety due to poor compliance by all users
  • Loss of meaning of the device
  • Loss of caution and awareness at intersections with no controls
  • Increased speeding between stop signs
  • Increased emissions and noise

For more on this, see Multi-way Stops – The Research Shows the MUTCD is Correct!

Roads that go nowhere: Of course, the ultimate design solution to the cut-through problem is to design communities from scratch with short, curvy streets that end in cul-de-sacs. That’s why bicyclists can’t get anywhere in the suburbs without riding on 6-lane highways.

So, where does it end?

overengineered

Derbyshire Rd. connects to Kewannee and is part of the Great Neighborhood Cut-through Route. It has lane-narrowing paint, speed bumps, pinch points, medians and terrible pavement. It sees long lines of traffic every morning and afternoon.

The determination to speed eventually overrides whatever forms of discomfort traffic engineers throw at it. Motorists just figure out how to outsmart the stuff. Or they slow down on this street and drive faster on the next one, or find a new neighborhood cut-through. So the next street, and the new neighborhood, then has to be treated.

At some point, we have to stop throwing band-aids at our diseased traffic culture and start working toward some real ATTITUDE  change. It’s not bad enough that all this expensive traffic furniture doesn’t solve the problem, but it creates problems for the very people who are part of the solution!

There is only one thing that will change behavior—relentless and aggressive law enforcement. Get your police departments out there and collect some revenue. Let’s reverse the money stream—make the speeders contribute to the taxpayers rather than having the taxpayers bear the burden of paying for traffic calming devices.

I don’t know what it will take to change attitudes, but there are ideas out there worth trying. Changing the attitudes behind this behavior would have a cascade effect on other behaviors that plague the gentle users of the road.

I particularly like the ideas from the folks at Creative Communities. In any case, this is a job for social engineering, it’s not going to be accomplished with concrete, bricks, white lines or red octagons. It’s certainly not going to be accomplished by decreasing comfort for bicyclists seeking quiet routes.

More than anything, it requires us all to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what kind of community we want to live in. Once of the reasons the law enforcement solution is unpopular is that bad behavior is tragically normative. The community has no stomach for hefty fines and relentless speed-”traps” (<— the words we use speak volumes), because most people fear they would be caught.

Speeding through neighborhoods is essentially adolescent behavior. The problem is most Americans carry it well into adulthood. It’s time to grow up and consider something larger than ourselves and our momentary impatience.

33 Comments

  1. As always, good post, Keri.

    Your comments about law enforcement made me think about my community of Tuskawilla and the lack of traffic calming devices (save for a few gratuitous stop signs on Northern Way and Vistawilla). Why? BIG police presence all the time. Winter Springs police regularly patrol Northern Way, a 6-mile loop that connects various subdivisions. Speed limit is 25 mph (true for most of Tuskawilla). Speed traps are common and expected (at least by full-time residents!).

  2. So, did they get the BFC award?

  3. Good find on the stop sign study!

  4. Steve, no they didn’t.

    Mighk, the stop sign study was a gift. Wayne posted it on chainguard just as I was starting to work on this post.

    Lisa, Thanks! WSPD offers an excellent example of how an ongoing public policy of speed enforcement works. Once speed enforcement has been abandoned in an area, reestablishing control requires the political will to ride out backlash and pressure from residents who resent getting tickets. Funny how it never occurs to the complainers that it’s so simple to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

  5. Rat-runners! These “cut-through” drivers can be the worst. They know their being bad, and blast through at dangerous speeds. Since they don’t live the neighbourhood, they don’t really care about poisoning the living environment and scaring the children.

    Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem that works 100% of the time. It is called “permeable barricades.”

    Permeable barricades allow bicycle and pedestrian traffic through, but stop cars. Properly set up, car drivers can only go one way, straight out to the nearest arterial road.

    Voila! Zero cut-through traffic. And local drivers tend to drive calmly. Who wants to anger their neighbours?

    This works the best when every neighbourhood in the entire city is treated the same way. A good example is the city of Groningen. In Groningen, bicycles can go straight from point A to B. But a car driver who wants to go from one quarter of the city to another has to drive all the way out to a peripheral ring road, drive around the city, then drive back in again.

    Much faster to take a bike. And zero cut-through car traffic. What a livable city! See:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-groningen-grew-to-be-worlds-number.html

  6. David Engwicht has great ideas (Creative Communities), but I’m so sure about the implementation end.

    What if bicycling advocates were seen first and foremost to be about helping neighborhoods restore their livability?

    Programs that will work will the ones that serve some function that people already spend time on, not that require additional time. It’s about doing things a new way, instead doing more.

    Instead of driving the kids to soccer practice, take the kids out in the street and play soccer with them.

    Street play was the first thing auto interests attacked when they worked to change the frame of the street in the 1920s.

    What if cycling advocates went to neighborhood associations explaining how things came to be and how they can be changed?

  7. Oops, first sentence should have ended “NOT so sure about the implementation end.”

  8. Great post Keri.

    In my experience a lot of ‘cut through’ traffic is done by people living in the neighborhood themselves which is even more frustrating. I admit that I have mixed feelings about traffic calming. I live a block off of a quiet collector street that has had extensive traffic calming treatment. I don’t generally ride it though it is designated/signed as a City Bikeway. I’ve explained to City reps that I don’t ride it because I become the traffic calming. I should probably be relieved that the treatments don’t involve speed humps because they have also populated the rest of the neighborhood which has become the City’s default traffic calming technique.

    All that said, the cut through traffic in the neighborhood has been greatly reduced or at least slowed down. This is a narrow two-laned street but it parallels a major arterial just two blocks away.

  9. Kevin,

    The permeable barrier idea (bike boulevards) works where you have a street grid. The problem we have here is that the cut through roads are often the only way in or out of vast neighborhoods—they lead to a single outlet on opposite ends. Creating diversions would cause problems for the people who live in those neighborhoods. You have to live here and (from a cyclist’s perspective) study maps of this area to truly grasp profound the lack of connectivity here. It’s a combo of geographic barriers (lakes) and bad land use. Orlando grew from a tiny town to a large metro in 20 years — the worst 20 years of US car culture. Our problems are very much a product of that.

  10. Laura, I meant to get down to Delaney to get a photo of those medians. I may add one. Summerlin has a few blocks of those, too. I was on Summerlin yesterday morning with a group of 5. A car had to wait behind us most of the way. Between the last 2 medians, the driver gunned it and passed us. We then pulled up behind him at the red light. Lotta gas expended just to stop at a red light.

    No doubt that stuff discourages people avoiding Orange Ave. But it diverts the evil at the expense of the good. Expectation of an OPD officer with a radar gun would have the same effect without creating stress for the cyclists, who are naturally happier on a quiet, shady parallel route than on hot, busy Orange Avenue.

  11. Keri: From your post, I get that you are taking an anti -”hardware” stance and wanting us to focus on “software” ideas of how to solve our traffic problems. And I agree. But aren’t there some good “hardware” solutions available — although they look and feel so counter-intuitive?

    How about narrowing of roads in general (no-standard widths), and not using a center line?

    How about some of the work done in Norway where they removed all traffic signs, etc, so that people had to actively work with traffic (bike pedestrians and cars)?

    Now I agree that we cannot go back and retro-fit these solutions everywhere …. but can we also start using them wherever we can to replace existing designs?

  12. I do like narrow roads with no lines. One of my frustrations in the Casselberry neighborhood highlighted above, is the use of double-yellow lines on residential streets. Double-yellow lines immediately send a visual cue for a higher-order road. Recent repaving projects left some of those roads lineless for a week or so. I can’t speak to the difference in speeds, but there was definitely a difference in overtaking behavior.

    The problem is, hardware solutions only affect one road at a time and the attitude spills over onto other roads—sometimes worse, as childish brutes release their pent-up frustration by mashing the gas pedal in anger once released from an encumbered section of road.

    The more we focus on this type of small-picture containment of a symptom, the more we get diverted from trying to find a big-picture solution to the core problem.

    Bicycle advocacy suffers from the same problem.

  13. Several issues here:

    If traffic is diverted to a main road, from secondary roads then the main road becomes even more crowded than it is now. An example is Delaney causes more backups and delays than it did before it was calmed.

    The grid pattern works because traffic can use many different ways to get somewhere. Sadly, I have seen cities put in 4-lane roads and then destroy the grid with barricades to force drivers to use the new road.

    Even if cut-through cars are not speeding, people that live along the secondary streets become very proprietary about “their” street and don’t want any cars using it. The residential is sacrosanct issue again. They complain about speeders, but that isn’t the main issue. The issue is that they don’t like strange cars on their street. Then they complain drug dealers are using the streets and if the police want to make an effective bust, they need to block off exit routes.

    Laura is correct, because I ride my little neighborhood regularly, I know most the cars and drivers by sight. The neighbors drive the fastest, the teenagers stare straight ahead, and the men coming home from work are not paying attention, just when some people think it is a good time to take a walk.

  14. I forgot to say that the major reason for bricking the streets the way that Winter Park does has nothing to do with speeding. It has to do with reducing traffic entirely.

    When Baldwin Park was announced, Lake Sue/Pennsylvania was bricked because some people didn’t want “those people” to have easy access to I-4 that way. It worked grandly. Right after it was reopened, the traffic counts went down 60%.

    ‘Course they cut me off as well from the rest of the city. Something that in hindsight they may regret because I spend my money south of here in Orlando and Orange County. I don’t think WP sees 2% of the money I spend and now the businesses in WP are closing . . . oh, well.

  15. Yeah, the Lake Sue/Pennsylvania treatment plus the new ones on Lakeview Dr was really stupid. Those bricks are intentionally too annoying to drive on, so they did have the effect of cutting all the residents of Baldwin Park off from Park Ave. To get to Winter Park by car requires completely circumventing the direct route, so why bother?

    I have a friend who lives in Baldwin Park and teaches at Rollins. What would have been (and used to be) a perfect, short, scenic bike route on residential roads has been ruined by short-sighted arrogance. Getting there by bike now requires riding 3 sides of a square and using less enjoyable roads.

  16. There was a time when speeding was considered a crime. When did that change? Now a ticket just represents bad luck.

    In fact, breaking any traffic law is a crime. When a multitude of laws are passed to govern every conceivable human activity, the infractions don’t seem so profound.

    We have traded a sense of duty to our community and its citizens, a duty to be civil, with a new moral code: “I didn’t break the law!”

    But when the law is the guide, not moral principals, one can “shave the edge” and “work the angles” to nullify the application of the law to oneself.

    If the law is seen as being a standard unto itself, and not the codification of a greater and more enduring principal, what other than the chance of being caught restrains one from ignoring laws he doesn’t like? And if we routinely ignore “little” infractions like speeding or declaring taxable events*, what justifies obeying the bigger ones like environmental laws?

    As NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani showed, an enforcement blitz can make a community better, and it is a good step. But unless attitudes change about how we see ourselves and our responsibilities to one another, it will be limited to the targeted enforcement efforts and have no lasting effect.

    *I am talking about you, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Representative Rangle!

  17. Good insights (as always) from Chipseal!

    Yes, enforcement works for behavior change, but it takes a lot more than that to achieve attitude change.

    Ultimately, the impetus for lasting change comes from a much more sincere place than compliance with law.

  18. Most traffic calming disproportionately punishes law abiders, whether they are bicyclists or motorists. As a cyclist, it’s galling to encounter ubiquitous unwarranted stop signs, speed humps/bumps/whatever, various bulbs/knobs/blobs, and pavement texturizing. We didn’t create the problem, but we pay dearly. As a law abiding motorist, it’s similarly unfair to have to slow to 15 to get over a hump, or practically stop for a bump. It’s wearing on brakes and suspension parts and increases fuel use and pollution. Poor pavement really kills fuel economy.

    John Allen’s hardware/software analogy is great, but we’ve got broken hardware and software. Some of the hardware is good, but there is no excuse for the really bad stuff. The government shouldn’t torture us.

    Some success can be had by working with planners and traffic engineers who are often ignorant of the unintended consequences on bicyclists of what they implement. Depending on the situation, I either engage them individually so as to not embarrass them to others for their mistakes, or email multiple people including Town Council members to make sure everyone is accountable and knows they are being watched.

    Wayne

  19. “a perfect, short, scenic bike route on residential roads has been ruined by short-sighted arrogance.”

    The people that live on those streets do not want cyclists. They do not want motorists. If they could do it, they would put in gates, but their subdivisions were constructed just after WWII, but before the 60′s, so they are stuck with a semi-grid.

    So they put in these bricks, at extraordinary expense.

    It is difficult to describe to people that haven’t experienced how these bricks are set, but they are unique in my experience.

    These bricks are set anywhere from 1/8″ to 1/2″ height difference, brick to brick. As I said it sounds incredible and the brick manufacturer thought it odd that one city would order so many of these while others ignored them (they are not real bricks, but concrete ones), but there you have it.

    Winter Park uses “designer” bricks on these streets to discourage use.

    Winter Park knows how to use bricks properly. There is a short bit of NY Ave. between Holt and Fairbanks and the Mead Garden driveway is made of perfectly normal, smooth bricks that can support 70,000 lb trucks. I know because I cringed as I saw loaded concrete trucks and dump trucks loaded with wet clay drive over them. A few minor dips, but nothing odd happened.

  20. Eric said “It is difficult to describe to people that haven’t experienced how these bricks are set, but they are unique in my experience.”

    I’ve tried to describe them and tried to find some source (like the manufacturer) to help describe them. Do you know who the manufacturer is, or know the name of the product?

    When I described them to John Allen, he was so curious he came here to see them. Here’s a video he shot… that’s John S. Allen, author of Street Smarts, suggesting we ride on the sidewalk after about 200 feet of torture on Pennsylvania Ave.

    When I go into Winter Park from the Mead Garden trail, it’s all I can do to get across Pennsylvania and into the paved parking pull-out for the 9th grade center, then I ride the sidewalk to get to the old bricks on Huntington.

    They’ve done this to sections of Via Tuscany and Temple Drive, too—the only 2 shady, low-volume north-south bike routes to Maitland. And those bricks are not only rough, they’re loose. Temple has been ripped up and re-bricked at least twice because it settles and deteriorates.

  21. If you have a library card, you may have access to News Bank which is like Google News on steroids.

    From an article written in 2004 that appeared in The Orlando Sentinel all the way at the bottom:

    City Engineer Troy Attaway said the rough bricks were special ordered and cut in different heights to slow traffic. He said that the traffic has decreased from 8,500 cars per day in 1998 to 6,000 cars a day after the bricks were installed in 2003. Driving speeds dropped from 41 mph to 29 mph during that time.

    Winter Park was the first city in the country to ask for uneven bricks , said Ted Corvey, paver business director of Pine Hall Brick , which produces most of the city’s bricks . The Winston-Salem, N.C., company is the largest clay paver supplier in the United States. Corvey said a handful of municipalities have since ordered the uneven bricks

  22. Along Lakeview, I use the sidewalk. I put on a bicycle bell just to to warn pedestrians as I travel along the Lakeview sidewalk (there is only one).

    I only travel that street once a month to pay my power bill and then I buy what I need at the hardware store and then I am gone.

    The streets department has received many “suggestions” from the pedestrian and bicycle committee as to how to brick streets properly and all of them has been ignored. When I saw that, I quit attending meetings since I realized it was a waste of time.

  23. Great read. I take exception with one item though. I would not characterize our society as hyper-individualist. The behavior you are describing is just plain apathy. If anything, I think we as a society have hyper-dependency issues.

    I actually grew up on a brick road. I enjoyed the heck out of it! Of course, back then I was riding BMX bikes. Nowadays I ride a road bike, but I still run 35mm+ tires so they don’t bother me. I have to say though, I haven’t seen one of these loose brick roads around here. My brick road riding is on roads (some have been renovated) that are 75+ years old.

  24. The yellow lines versus no lines observation. MUCH more pleasant without. Less stressful for the passers, too. A bit less control might be good for us all.

  25. “My brick road riding is on roads (some have been renovated) that are 75+ years old.”

    The roads you describe can’t hold a candle to the roughness of the new Winter Park street.

    A street that I know of that is almost as rough would be in Charleston, SC. It was made from “cobblestone”which I think were mostly ship’s ballast.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobblestone

  26. “The yellow lines versus no lines observation. ”

    Except that when the traffic count gets very high, lane dividers are called for by the MUTCD.

  27. With respect to Delaney, I’m not that sure traffic has been calmed all that much. The two roundabouts are well-placed though and help folks on cross streets get a break in traffic since even without the medians on Delaney there would be few breaks in traffic for cars from cross streets to enter the roadway or cross it.

    The City also closed off Crystal Lake Street at Orange Avenue to prevent folks from diverting down Center Ave (my street) from Michigan to get to Orange. Again, a problem of an ineffective grid.

    Worse than the Winter Park situation (my opinion of course) is the rebricking of DelanayfromBriercliff to Gore and Kaley from Mills to Ferncreek. It’s AWFUL! the ruts, dips and uneveness is darnright dangerous. They’ve already redone Kaley once and it’s still awful. We’re talking 6″ ruts. I don’t think the residents counted on it being so incompetently installed. It’s like the City didn’t even bother regrading or putting a thick enough base down. There’s talk of rebricking Delaney to where the old bricks are laid which would be to around Grant I think.

    Link 6 also uses part Delaney – the bus operators LOVE the traffic calming I’m sure.

  28. I had to laugh after seeing Keri’s brick road video, when John said, “that’s a sidepath there, let’s ride on the sidepath” which is VC-correct-speak for riding on the sidewalk, right? (grin)

    I’ve seen a news report of a neighborhood plagued with high-speed cut-throughs, traffic avoiding an intersection with perhaps long delays. The residents purchased modular speed bumps and were later ordered to remove them. I’d suggest that the same residents take a TS101 class and become their own traffic calming devices; ride their bikes on the roads used for cut-through during the peak hours.

  29. Winter Park calls that a side path. They widened it to 8 ft in some places, but it gets narrow around the oak trees. It’s a 2-way “side path” on one side of the street. The video that follows where I cut has a running commentary of the hazards on the side path. It’s pretty funny, too. We were only on it for a block before turning onto another street… where the commentary continues about the debris and trash cans in the bike lane. ;-)

    Then we went to Mills Ave, which you’ve seen.

  30. I’m late to this discussion, but… It seems to me that we can also change attitudes as we did in changing the culture of littering following the first Earth Day, i.e. a program to make a behavior socially unacceptable. This is not easy to do. But it could be used in conjunction with greater enforcement.

  31. I cringed a few years ago when I heard our city engineer (since retired) say that he kind of liked some of the places on our streets where the old cobblestone was coming up through, because it looked so quaint! :-O

  32. Great post, Keri.

    I think that one impetus for narrowing streets is the usual grass-is-greener phenomenon. The thinking goes like this: European streets are narrow, Europe has lower crash rates, therefore narrow streets result in lower crash rates.

    However, European streets are mostly narrow not by design, but rather because they are hundreds or even thousands of years old — once traveled only by pedestrians, animals and animal-drawn vehicles. Some of these streets now carry high volumes of motor traffic traffic and yet have no sidewalks.

    Bricks and block pavers are popular in Europe by tradition — as the successor to cobblestones, which, having ridden on some in Frankfurt, I can tell you, make your Winter Park bricks feel like a newly-asphalted street by comparison. We now see block pavers and stone being used on Boston streets, too, as seen in this video: https://vimeo.com/44078581 .

    “Shared space” is the extreme case where motorists are reduced to pedestrian speed because there are no separate sidewalks, and bicyclists actually go faster than cars because of the ability to maneuver around the pedestrians, if unsafely. Most such streets also are pre-automotive, see for example https://vimeo.com/38833640 — a rare US example; I saw many such streets in Europe. — But they also are fad-trendy, as the advocate who speaks at the beginning of the video makes clear.

    Studies do indeed show that at least some kinds of traffic calming reduce the crash rate, but usually neglect to say, at the cost of seriously reduced mobility, or diversion of traffic to other routes, or penalizing bicyclists.

    Shorter crosswalks and pedestrian-dominated or car-free zones are advantageous to pedestrians — however, a modern city cannot exist if travel is limited to pedestrian speed.

    In response to another comment in this thread: I did find the bicycle boulevards in Berkeley, California with their bicycle-permeable barriers and neighborhood traffic circles, advantageous in creating low-volume, low-speed through routes, but still there is a serious cultural problem. The bicycle boulevards do not improve behavior. More about that, when I have some video examples online…