Driving the calm: how to create safer roads for pedestrians

Article By:

Senior Associate | Urban Designer

Imagine two residential street scenarios:

The first one looks like a typical suburban street, very wide and not defined by any trees or fencing. It’s clear there are no pedestrians anywhere in sight along this straight, elongated road. So, you drive a little faster.

The second street, however, appears narrower with immediate obstacles like large tree canopies, shrubs and picket fences. It’s difficult to see whether a vehicle is approaching from around the corner. So, what do you do? You slow down.

Now here’s the kicker: both have the same speed restrictions! Yet, only one of them is designed to calm traffic down. Whether we desire, choose, consider or plan for a safe neighbourhood, we cannot ignore the fact that the design of many subdivisions still gravitate towards the convenience and speed of cars, and choose the short-cut (no pun intended).

Meanwhile, we are facing unprecedented causalities on the roads.

There has been a lot of public discussion on the need to reduce speed limits on residential streets in Winnipeg with city officials moving forward on traffic studies to regulate speed limits. I agree that speed reduction is part of the solution, but we should not regulate our way to safety.

In other words, there should be no excuses when it comes to designing our streets to be safe.

The German word ‘verkehrsberuhigung’, from which the term “traffic calming” originated, was used in the 1970s to describe the speed control measures in Germany.

North American cities may appear to be slightly behind globally, but many government officials have begun to respond to the needs of their residents. Examples, such as paying for speed humps on residential roads and even leveraging on their civic influence to steer private developments toward safer solutions, have become starting points to address this.

Nadi Group worked on a secondary master plan where the client, who represents the administration of a rural municipality, is advocating a highly walkable community that embraces traffic calming strategies. When completed, it will be instrumental as a policy document and exemplary as a development caveat on the future development of a safe complete community.

Please fill out the form on the right-hand side to download your copy of "Driving the Calm" in its entirety.

This document is an excellent resource for government officials, land developers and designers to understand how incorporating traffic calming measures help protect communities and the environment.

Learn  about:

  • Integrated approaches
  • Context and classifications and
  • Traffic calming measures.

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