by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy
I've just reviewed the new (1999) "Canadian Guide to Neighborhood Traffic
Calming," published by the Transportation Association of Canada and the Canadian
Institute of Transportation Engineers, available for $100 Canadian (about $65 US) from
TAC, Phone: 613-736-1350, Fax: 613-736-1395; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.tac-atc.ca.
It is a fine document. In summary, it is persuasive, comprehensive and easy to use. I
would recommend it to anybody interested in traffic calming, from advocates to engineers.
It should help convince reluctant officials that traffic calming is an accepted
engineering practice with a wide range of potential options and applications. Let me
describe some of the details.
It begins by defining traffic calming and discussing why and where traffic calming is
appropriate. The introduction states:
"Residential streets are multi-purpose facilities shared by pedestrians, cyclists,
automobiles, public transit, trucks and service vehicles...In some communities, however,
there are residential streets on which motor vehicle traffic has become a problem. These
problems may be related to traffic volumes, traffic speed, road geometry, traffic
operations, or any combination of these...A recent trend in Canadian municipalities is to
implement TRAFFIC CALMING to resolve traffic and safety problems on residential
It provides the following definition of traffic calming adopted by ITE International:
"Traffic Calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the
negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behaviour and improve conditions for
non-motorized street users."
It also states, "The purpose of traffic calming measures is to restore streets to
their intended function."
It lists the following purposes of traffic calming:
- Reduce vehicular speeds.
- Discourage through traffic.
- Minimize conflicts between road users.
- Improve the neighborhood environment.
It discusses the safety benefits of traffic calming (substantial), legal, liability
enforcement and maintenance issues. It describes recommended traffic calming planning
which emphasizes community involvement (with considerable detail as to how this can be
The real substance of the guide is a section that provides detailed information on 25
traffic calming measures. For each measure there is a section that discusses:
- Purpose and description
- Application (roadway type, traffic conditions, location, and what other traffic calming
measures it can be implemented with).
- Benefits (effects on vehicle speed, traffic volume, conflicts and environment).
- Disbenefits (traffic diversion, impacts on emergency and snow clearance [remember, this
is Canada], bicycles, people who are visually impaired, maintenance, local access,
parking, street sweeping, police enforcement).
- Specific data when available, such as delay to emergency vehicles (in seconds per
measure), and before and after traffic speed counts.
- Estimated installation costs for each measure (in Canadian dollars).
- Examples of installations, including photographs.
It includes a design guide for many of the measures, including engineering drawings
with specific recommended dimensions (in metric units), signage and painting requirements,
There is also a glossary and bibliography.
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