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March 16, 2012


Alan M

This might be yet another situation where we can't trust some people to get it right, so we need to remove their ability to get it wrong.
Speed bumps, chicanes, raised pedestrian crossings and so on, all help to do this. Even better, they're all traffic calming measures that don't impede those already travelling at neighbourhood speed (30-40 km/h)
I've often thought that the standard "50 km/h unless otherwise posted" doesn't cut it in today's world. It'd be better, from a neighbourhood complete streets perspective that puts people first, to have a default of 30 km/h or 40 km/h, and then post collectors at 50 and arterials at 60.
Enforcement helps too, as would photo-radar, red-light cams, and so on.
For more ideas, see: http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/trafficcalming/Interesting


I haven't seen any compelling evidence that suggests signage affects behaviour in any demonstrable way. In fact, more signage tends to cause people to ignore signs (old and new) altogether.

The most affective way, indeed perhaps the only way, to actually get motorists to slow down and pay attention is to create streets that are narrow and complex. This is good, because narrow, complex streets are also valuable streets that promote street life and active mobility anyway.

The posted speed limit on a street is entirely a human fiction. The actual speed limit is the speed at which a driver can navigate obstacles comfortably. If we create a network of fully shared, primarily residential streets that physically define a hierarchy of user needs, you won't need posted limits at all; you just simply wouldn't be able to travel faster than say 10 or 20km/hr, regardless of how that makes you feel.


Signs like you suggest won't work. We have similar signs to the "Children play along this street" but it doesn't make a difference.

The street I live on is residential, however it connects two major roadways. There are no sidewalks and a slight bend. When I'm walking, I tend to go onto people's front lawns because cars use it as a short cut. The worst is at the bend where few people slow down.

Honestly, I'm surprised cities allow speed limits above 50km/h.
Want to go over 60, go on a highway. Want to go over 100? Go to a race track.

Michael D

That's easy! You design the street so it doesn't invite people to drive fast.

Here's a street that invites fast driving: http://g.co/maps/27pwr

Here's a couple that doesn't: http://g.co/maps/9pxth http://g.co/maps/wsrw8

And a more extreme example: http://g.co/maps/454p6

Michael D

To follow up, there's one other factor. Streets now are designed so that fire trucks can go down them at a high speed, in the narrow view that this benefits safety. Of course, if fire trucks can go quickly down a street, so can everyone else.

Bringing houses closer together and making the street narrower slows down cars, reducing injuries and deaths from speeding and inattentive motorists. Higher density makes more homes within reach of a fire station, counteracting the need to go fast (and spread places out by this requirement).

Rob (Mk.2)

Signage doesn't work as they're generally ignored. The perceived narrowness of the roadway with boulevards and foliage seems to help. Davenport Road in Waterloo seems to work as I have driven through at or below the speed limit and do not feel rushed. Queens' Blvd in Kitchener seems to have slowed down car traffic from at least from Courtland to Belmont. The presence of lots of pedestrian traffic and cyclists also seems to slow people down.

Ken E.

David Suzuki is a fruit fly guy not a climatologist...greenhouse gas emmisions are CO2 target....thats not a pollutant...its a requirement for life...and is a very small part of the atmosphere...speed has nothing to do with children....they should not play in the street period...there is a sign in the area...caution..deaf child playing...letting a deaf child play in the street is criminal...it is the parents,that should teach the children how to cross a street..stop look and listen is forgoten..we are growing a hole generation of children that don't know how to look after their life..socialism:: the traffic walk sign will protect you from looking for danger..///


@ Ken E - thanks for your erudite contribution to an otherwise articulate and informative conversation. Your concerns and helpful suggestions are duly noted.


Thanks for the laugh, Ken. Good satire.

On a more serious note, what about what Waterloo did with Davenport Road, making it a 'complete street'? I thought part of the idea was to reduce some of the further-down-the-road visibility with trees, etc. so cars would slow down. It may be difficult to quickly overhaul existing streets, but we should at least demand features like these on anything new that's being built or torn up anyways for repairs.

Peter Parker

I came here to offer my opinion, but it has already been expressed better by Alan, Brandon, Michael, and others... I support almost everything that other commenters posted, except, of course, Ken. Sorry, Ken, you're outvoted.


While I agree Michael, some traffic calming measures can be unnecessarily bad for emergency services, (e.g., speed bumps on Greenbrook Dr.) while others can make special exceptions for emergency vehicles -such as permeable "dead ends."

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Bill Bean

  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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