The term "Traffic Calming" is used to describe methods of altering the behavior of traffic to suit the character of the area it moves through. The most apt example of this character occurs where a local street is used by motorists as a short cut from one arterial to another. Because cut-through traffic often moves faster than neighborhood traffic and there is a lot more of it, this use can severely degrade the character of the street. Increased volume and increased speed can lead to a more dangerous, less pleasant street and discourages its use by bicyclists, pedestrians and children.
As concern over safety and the desire for improved pedestrian and bicycle safety increases, communities across the country are looking at installing traffic calming measures to improve safety and reduce vehicle speed.
Here in City of Lakeland, the need for traffic calming was brought about by the increased requests by neighborhood groups to "do something" about the quantity of traffic using their neighborhoods as cut-through thoroughfares.
The overriding purpose of traffic calming devices is to discourage non-local traffic from cutting through neighborhoods. There are several other benefits to the process as well. Because many traffic calming strategies reduce vehicle speeds for all the traffic on the street, safety on that street is increased. Because many traffic calming strategies use landscaping and pavement treatments, these may serve to enhance the aesthetic look of the neighborhood.
Need for Traffic Calming
The need for traffic calming stems from an increase in complaints about traffic on neighborhood streets. Increased traffic through neighborhoods threatens the integrity and character of the neighborhood and puts non-motorized users at risk. Limited resources of the City prevent comprehensive enforcement of speeds, volume, and safety.
The increase in traffic through neighborhoods is likely caused by one or more of the following:
- new development in neighborhood creating increased traffic,
- cut-through traffic avoiding congestion on arterial streets,
- re-routed neighborhood traffic due to obstacles at other outlets.
The street network is constructed in a hierarchical manner to provide efficient and effective routes from one’s origin to destination. Arterial streets form the backbone of the street network. These high-capacity roadways serve as direct links between different areas of the City. Local collectors feed into these arterials allowing motorists quick and easy access to the major roadways while at the same time allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to move about their neighborhood and to move from one to another. The majority of streets in the City are local neighborhood streets. These streets provide residents access to their houses.
The City of Lakeland's policy for Traffic Calming established August 30, 1999 (revised October 5, 2009) is :
"City of Lakeland Traffic Management Program" criteria, traffic calming is recommended only if the minimum criteria for traffic volumes (300 vehicles/day/and speeds (85th percentile speed is greater than 8 MPH over the posted speed limit).