Sierra Club logo

Stopping Sprawl campaign home page - click here.
Get an overview. Sign up for an e-newsletter. Find out what you can do to help.
Environmental Update Main
Sprawl Main
In This Section
Sprawl Overview
Reports & Factsheets
Activist Resources
Get Involved!
Articles & Research
Population and Sprawl

Get The Sierra Club Insider
Environmental news, green living tips, and ways to take action: Subscribe to the Sierra Club Insider!


Stop Sprawl
Summary of Canadian Guide to Neighborhood Traffic Calming

by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute

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:; Website:

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 streets."

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 done).

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, etc.

There is also a glossary and bibliography.

Up to Top | Printer-friendly version of this page