Why Your Neighborhood Needs Traffic Calming, and How to Advocate for It

Why Your Neighborhood Needs Traffic Calming, and How to Advocate for It


Traffic calming, at its core, serves as a proactive approach to reshape the behavior of drivers, ensuring that roads, especially in residential and urban zones, remain safe and navigable. Its primary objective is to deter aggressive driving, thereby reducing the risk of accidents and improving the overall quality of life for residents. By slowing vehicles down, traffic calming measures not only reduce the potential for accidents but also foster a community-oriented environment where streets can be more multifunctional, serving pedestrians, cyclists, and children at play. From traditional methods like speed bumps and speed humps to more innovative solutions like chicanes, traffic circles, and raised intersections, there’s a vast array of tools in the traffic calming toolkit. Each measure offers its unique set of advantages. For instance, while speed bumps might be effective in slowing down vehicles over a short stretch, curb extensions or “bulb-outs” can increase visibility at intersections and reduce crossing distances for pedestrians. Understanding the value and benefits of each measure is pivotal. Reduced vehicle speed can lead to fewer and less severe collisions, decreased noise pollution, and enhanced neighborhood aesthetics. Moreover, by encouraging walking and cycling, these measures can indirectly promote health and environmental benefits. However, to implement these measures, community buy-in is crucial. Advocating for traffic calming in your locale involves understanding your community’s specific needs, liaising with local authorities, and rallying neighbors for support. This article serves as a guide to shed light on the myriad of traffic calming options available, their respective merits, and actionable steps for residents to champion safer streets in their neighborhoods.

Speed Bumps

Speed bumps are a simple yet effective way to reduce traffic speed and help promote safety in residential and commercial areas. They are raised sections of pavement that create a bumpy surface when driven over, and are often used to create a physical barrier to discourage speeding. Speed bumps are an ideal traffic calming solution for local neighborhoods, as they provide an affordable, non-invasive way to reduce speed limits. In addition, they can be installed in a matter of hours, with minimal disruption to the local community. Furthermore, they have been proven to reduce traffic speeds and increase safety in residential and commercial areas. To install speed bumps, you need to work with the local government, as they are responsible for road maintenance and enforce speed limits. It is important to get the support of local citizens and businesses, as speed bumps can affect the whole community. Once you have the support of your community, you can contact the local government to discuss the feasibility of installing speed bumps and the necessary paperwork to make it official.


Roundabouts are circular intersections designed to regulate traffic flow and reduce collisions. They employ a one-way counter-clockwise flow of traffic around a central island, with vehicles entering the roundabout yielding to traffic already in the circle. Roundabouts also provide spaces for pedestrians to cross safely. Roundabouts are incredibly effective at reducing motor-vehicle collisions and improving traffic flow. They also have a number of other benefits, including improved air quality from reduced vehicle idling and improved aesthetics in the surrounding area. If your neighborhood is considering a roundabout, engaging with your local transportation authorities to advocate for the installation is important. You may also need to work with local businesses and residents to ensure that the roundabout will serve everyone’s needs.

Median Islands

Median islands are physical traffic calming measures that are installed in the middle of a roadway, usually at intersections. They serve as a barrier between opposing lanes of traffic, forcing cars to slow down and be more aware of pedestrians and other drivers. Median islands can also provide a safe refuge for pedestrians to wait while crossing a busy street and can also provide green space to beautify the area. Benefits of median islands include decreased speed in the area, increased safety for pedestrians, and improved aesthetics. They are also relatively inexpensive to install and maintain, and they provide a physical barrier between lanes of traffic, making them a great solution for busy areas. How to install/advocate for median islands: Installing a median island is not a difficult process and can be done in a relatively short amount of time. The first step is to contact your local government to find out the regulations and requirements for installing median islands. Once you’ve done your research, you can start advocating for the installation of a median island in your area by reaching out to your local government officials and letting them know why you think a median island would be beneficial for your community. Additionally, you can reach out to local businesses or community organizations and ask them to join you in supporting the installation of a median island.

Curb Extensions

Curb extensions are a type of traffic calming measure that prevents vehicles from driving over the sidewalk. They can be used to reduce the sidewalk width and create a physical barrier, while also creating more space for pedestrians. Curb extensions can be used to make a street corner more pedestrian-friendly by narrowing the width of the street. They can also be used to shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross, by bringing the curb closer to the intersection. Benefits of curb extensions include increased safety, as they provide a physical barrier to protect pedestrians from vehicular traffic. They also reduce speeding, as drivers will be encouraged to slow down when approaching the corner. Additionally, curb extensions can improve the accessibility of a street corner, as they make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate the corner. How to install/advocate for curb extensions: The installation of curb extensions requires permission or approval from local and state governments. In order to advocate for curb extensions, citizens can contact their city council members or local transportation department to express their support. Citizens can also attend public hearings or submit petitions to local government in support of curb extensions.

Corner Bulb-Outs

A corner bulb-out is a traffic calming measure that extends the edge of a sidewalk into an intersection. This creates a smaller corner which can make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street, and helps reduce vehicle speeds by making it difficult for drivers to take tight turns. Additionally, corner bulb-outs can be designed to provide additional space for bike lanes or public seating. The benefits of corner bulb-outs are numerous, including a decrease in vehicle speeds, increased pedestrian safety, and improved cyclist access. Additionally, they can help reduce noise levels and can provide a pleasant aesthetic to an area. To install corner bulb-outs, the local government must approve the plan. This is typically done through a public hearing process in which local residents can provide input. Once approved, the local government can hire a contractor to install the necessary infrastructure. It is also important to install signs and markings to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the area.

Signs and Markings

Signs and markings are another form of traffic calming that can be used in neighborhoods to reduce the speed of vehicles. Signs can be used to indicate the speed limit or to remind drivers to slow down. Markings can be used to delineate the lanes on a road or to provide drivers with visual cues to slow down. Signs and markings offer several advantages. They are relatively cost effective, require minimal installation time, and can be installed quickly. Signs and markings can also be used to clearly mark crosswalks, bike lanes, and other key areas of the road. Advocating for signs and markings can be relatively straightforward. Local governments typically have the authority to install signs and markings and are often willing to take the initiative if the need is communicated to them. Community members can lobby their local government for signs and markings to be installed in their neighborhood.


Traffic calming is an important part of making neighborhoods safer and more livable. There are many methods of traffic calming, including speed bumps, roundabouts, median islands, curb extensions, corner bulb-outs, and signs and markings. Each of these methods have their own advantages and can be used to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers alike. The best way to advocate for traffic calming in your neighborhood is to make your voice heard. Reach out to your local representatives, organize petitions, and join forces with other members of your community to demonstrate the importance of traffic calming. With the right support, you can bring about the kind of change needed to make your neighborhood a safer and more enjoyable place to live.