Anyone working in municipal government knows all about the tussle over speed humps or “bumps”, those wonderful “silent policemen” installed by the City that slow vehicular traffic. A speed hump is an area of raised pavement across a roadway, usually circular in shape, and is a gentler version of a speed bump, which has acute angles designed to insist vehicles slow right down. Speed bumps are designed to provide driver discomfort, and drop vehicular speeds to approximately ten kilometers per hour.
Every neighbourhood wants these wonderful things that by their nature and design intentionally slow traffic. The City of Vancouver has a speed hump request form where residents can ask to have their street evaluated for speed humps. You can’t buy speed humps-there is a magical formula in the “warrant” system that looks at speed and volume of vehicles and ICBC reporting of vehicular crashes and fatalities. But if your street is an emergency response route, is in an industrial area, or a near a firehall, Vancouver says you are out of luck.
Years ago I installed speed bumps in a laneway south of Oakridge Mall. The lane was being used for vehicular rat running, but also served as the access lane and play space for residents. Since the City could not install speed bumps outside the warrant system and at that time did not promote lane way speed bumps, the local residents cost shared the cost, and the installation was implemented. There were no complaints-except from Engineering who balked (and quite rightly) at the creation of 20 km/h signage for the lane, as that type of laneway signage had not been approved at Council-yet.
Metro Vancouver in partnership with the Corporation of Delta is showcasing an elegant solution for slowing down traffic with the use of temporary speed humps during a water main replacement. This wondrous temporary speed hump costs about $700 for each installation and generally takes a crew about 30 minutes to install. The temporary speed hump is secured using four anchor bolts.
If Metro Vancouver can come up with such a simple and innovative, quick way to traffic calm on residential streets when traffic is being circumvented for water main repair, why can’t Metro Vancouver municipalities trial these low-cost speed humps to provide slower traffic speeds and enhance livability in the neighbourhoods? Why does it take a huge traffic count analysis and warrant system to look at ways to make the street more equal for all users? How do we get these low cost speed humps as “demonstrations” of what slower streets can look like and can function as? Why can’t this come to a neighbourhood street near all of us to make walking and cycling comfortable, accessible and more convenient?