U.S. Traffic Calming Manual

By Reid Ewing, Steven Brown, AICP

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A comprehensive how-to manual for traffic calming in the United States. Planners and engineers can look to this manual for guidance on the appropriate use, design, and signing and marking of traffic-calming measures. For local officials, developers, and community associations, it is an introduction to the goals and tactics of traffic calming.

Based in part on the first traffic-calming manual t...

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Date Published
March 15, 2009
APA Planners Press and American Society of Civil Engineers

About the Authors

Reid Ewing
Reid Ewing, Ph.D., is a Professor of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, chair of the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, associate editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association, and columnist for Planning magazine, writing the bi-monthly column Research You Can Use. Earlier in his career, he was director of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, research professor at the National Center for Smart Growth, state representative from northwest Tucson, and analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He holds master’s degrees in Engineering and City Planning from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Transportation Systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ewing’s work is aimed at planning practitioners. His eight books include Pedestrian and Transit Oriented Design, just co-published by the Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association; Growing Cooler – Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change, published by the Urban Land Institute; and Best Development Practices, listed by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of the 100 “essential” books in planning over the past 100 years. His 90 peer reviewed articles include “Travel and the Built Environment: A Meta-Analysis,” given the 2010 Best Article of the Year award by APA; "Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Physical Activity, Obesity, and Morbidity," the most widely cited academic paper in the Social Sciences as of late 2005, according to Essential Science Indicators; and “Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?” listed by APA as a Classic Article in urban planning. A recent citation analysis by Virginia Tech found that Ewing’s work is the 7th most highly cited of nearly 1,000 planning academics in North America. http://tomwsanchez.com/2015-urban-planning-citation-analysis/

Steven Brown

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Definition of Traffic Calming
1.2 Federal and State Initiatives
1.3 Local Trends
1.4 Key Terms
1.5 Purpose and Coverage
1.6 Notes

Chapter 2: Traffic Calming Process
2.1 Model Program
2.1.1 Project Initiation
2.1.2 Project Development
2.1.3 Project Approval
2.1.4 Project Implementation
2.2 Program Options
2.2.1 Affected Area
2.2.2 Public Involvement
2.2.3 Petitions and Surveys
2.2.4 Street Eligibility
2.2.5 Funding
2.2.6 Priority Rating
2.2.7 Trials
2.3 Program Documentation
2.4 Notes

Chapter 3: Toolbox
3.1 Nonphysical Measures
3.1.1 Psycho-perception Measures
3.1.2 Regulatory Measures
3.1.3 Signal Timing for Progression
3.2 Physical Measures
3.2.1 Volume Control Measures
3.2.2 Speed Control with Vertical Measures
3.2.3 Speed Control with Horizontal Measures
3.2.4 Speed Control with Narrowings
3.2.5 Combined Measures
3.2.6 Experimental Measures
3.3 Impacts of Traffic Calming Measures
3.3.1 Speed Impacts
3.3.2 Volume Impacts
3.3.3 Safety Impacts
3.4 Application Guidelines
3.4.1 Current Practice
3.4.2 Exemplary Guidelines
3.5 Notes

Chapter 4: Design
4.1 General Guidance
4.2 Volume Control Measures
4.2.1 Full Closures
4.2.2 Half Closures
4.2.3 Other Volume Control Measures
4.3 Vertical Speed Control Measures
4.3.1 Speed Humps
4.3.2 Speed Lumps
4.3.3 Speed Tables
4.3.4 Raised Crosswalks and Raised Intersections
4.3.5 Accommodation of Bicyclists
4.3.6 Design Modifications for Hilly Terrain
4.4 Horizontal Speed Control Measures
4.4.1 Mini-traffic Circles
4.4.2 Roundabouts
4.4.3 Lateral Shifts and Chicanes
4.4.4 Accommodation of Bicyclists and Pedestrians
4.5 Narrowings
4.5.1 Neckdowns
4.5.2 Chokers
4.5.3 Center Island Narrowings
4.5.4 Accommodation of Bicyclists
4.6 Speed Estimates
4.6.1 Speed versus Vertical Curvature
4.6.2 Speed versus Horizontal Curvature
4.6.3 Speed versus Spacing of Slow Points
4.7 Landscaping
4.7.1 Clearances
4.7.2 Maintenance
4.8 Notes

Chapter 5: Signing and Marking
5.1 Guidance from MUTCD
5.1.1 General Guidelines
5.1.2 Advance Warning Signs
5.1.3 Speed Advisories and Educational Plaques
5.1.4 Analogous MUTCD Signs
5.2 New Standard Warning Signs
5.3 Specific Signing and Marking Conventions
5.3.1 Signing and Marking of Vertical Measures
5.3.2 Signing and Marking of Horizontal Measures
5.3.3 Signing and Marking of Narrowings
5.4 Special Signing for Bicycle Routes

Chapter 6: Learning from Europe
6.1 Priority for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
6.2 Sample of Early Adopters
6.3 Traffic Calming Policies
6.3.1 Broader Goals
6.3.2 Broader Funding Criteria
6.3.3 Broader Representation in Plan Development
6.3.4 Main Roads
6.3.5 Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Tools
6.3.6 Pedestrian and Bicycle Counts
6.3.7 Skinny Street Standards
6.4 Traffic Calming Main Roads
6.4.1 Choose Appropriate Design Speeds
6.4.2 Choose Measures and Spacing Appropriate to Design Speeds
6.4.3 Provide Ample Warning on Approaches to Calmed Areas
6.4.4 Emphasize Street Edge Treatments
6.4.5 Facilitate Pedestrian Crossings
6.4.6 Reallocate Right-of-Way to Alternative Modes
6.5 Parting Thought
6.6 References
6.7 Notes

Appendix A: Overview of Leading Programs
A.1 Introduction
A.2 Who Was Surveyed
A.3 Program Initiation
A.4 Program Administration
A.5 Program Staffing
A.6 Program Funding
A.7 Project Eligibility
A.8 Prioritization
A.9 Use of Consultants
A.10 Interagency Consultation
A.11 Project Evaluation
A.12 Project Removal
A.13 Applicability to New Developments
A.14 Controversies
A.15 Liability and Litigation
A.16 Notes

Appendix B: Politics of Traffic Calming
B.1 Background on Case-Study Communities
B.1.1 Progressive Political Cultures
B.1.2 Sunbelt Problems and Opportunities
B.2 Tipping Points in Traffic Calming
B.2.1 Rule of the Few
B.2.2 Stickiness Factor
B.2.3 Power of Context

Appendix C: Case Study of Arterial Traffic Calming
C.1 Desired Criteria
C.2 "Road Diet" Cross Sections
C.3 Spacing of Traffic Calming Devices
C.4 Geometric Design
C.4.1 Roundabouts
C.4.2 Lateral Shifts
C.4.3 Raised Crosswalks
C.5 Illustrative Plan
C.6 Postscript

Appendix D: Speed Lumps, the New Device of Choice
D.1 Not Humps or Bumps
D.2 Effects on Fire-Rescue Vehicles
D.3 Effects on Passenger Cars
D.4 Design Parameters
D.5 Rubber versus Asphalt
D.6 Aesthetics
D.7 Costs
D.8 Notes

Appendix E: Skinny Street Standards
E.1 Overblown Concerns and Unrealistic Solutions
E.2 Case Studies
E.2.1 Baldwin Park, Orlando, Fla.
E.2.2 Canyon Rim Village, Redmond, Ore.
E.2.3 Peninsula Neighborhood, Iowa City, Iowa
E.2.4 Glenwood Park, Atlanta
E.2.5 WaterColor, Walton County, Fla.
E.2.6 Potomac Yard, Alexandria, Va.
E.3 Look to Oregon
E.4 Trade-off Between Fire Safety and Traffic Safety?

Appendix F: Emergency Response Tests in Beverly Hills
F.1 Maneuverability Test
F.2 Travel Time Test

Appendix G: Traffic Diversion in Sacramento


"The U.S. Traffic Calming Manual is a much-needed comprehensive review of current traffic-calming experience and best practices around the country. It will no doubt become an indispensable resource for municipalities like New York City and their planners, engineers, and designers who are seeking to retrofit their streets to be safer, more livable, and more sustainable."

—Janette Sadik-Khan
Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation

"U. S. Traffic Calming Manual provides an authoritative guide to traffic calming, with clear explanations and excellent illustrations. By collaborating to produce this superb manual, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Planning Association have shown the way toward more civilized cities."

—Donald Shoup, FAICP
The High Cost of Free Parking

"The new U.S. Traffic Calming Manual is a comprehensive information resource that provides detailed guidance on every aspect of traffic-calming planning, design, and implementation. It is a useful and attractive document that will help practitioners address specific traffic problems and improve overall community livability."

Todd Litman
Parking Management Best Practices