Continued from…Intersection Humps/Raised Intersections:
2. Reducing street areas where motor traffic is given priority. This category of traffic-calming includes all those that reduce the area of the street designated exclusively for motor vehicle travel. “Reclaimed” space is typically used for landscaping, pedestrian amenities, and parking.
Discussed here are:
• Slow points.
• Curb extensions.
• Corner radius treatment.
• Narrow traffic lanes.
Slow Points (neck-downs, traffic throttles, pinch points) – Slow points narrow a two-way road over a short
distance, forcing motorists to slow and, in some cases, to merge into a single lane. Sometimes these are used in conjunction with a speed table and coincident with a pedestrian crossing. The following are advantages and disadvantages of both one-lane and two-lane slow points:
(1) One-lane slow point.
One-lane slow points restrict traffic flow to one lane. This lane must accommodate motor traffic in both travel directions. Passage through the slow point can be either straight through or angled.
• Vehicle speed reduced.
• Most effective when used in a series.
• Imposes minimal inconvenience to local traffic.
• Pedestrians have a reduced crossing distance, greater safety.
• Reduced sight distances if landscaping is not low and trimmed.
• Contrary to driver expectations of unobstructed flow.
• Can be hazardous for drivers and bicyclists if not designed and maintained properly.
• Opposing drivers arriving simultaneously can create confrontation.
(2) Two-lane slow point.
Two-lane slow points narrow the roadway while providing one travel lane in each direction.
• Only a minor inconvenience to drivers.
• Regulates parking and protects parked vehicles as the narrowing can help stop illegal parking.
• Pedestrian crossing distances reduced.
• Space for landscaping provided.
• Not very effective in slowing vehicles or diverting through traffic.
• Only partially effective as a visual obstruction.
• Where slow points have been used in isolation as speed control measures, bicyclists have felt squeezed as motorists attempt to overtake them at the narrowing. Not all bicyclists have the confidence to position themselves in the middle of the road to prevent overtaking on the approach to and passage through the narrow area.
• To reduce the risk of bicyclists’ being squeezed, slow points should generally be used in conjunction
with other speed control devices such as speed tables at the narrowing. Slower moving drivers will be more inclined to allow bicyclists through before trying to pass. Where bicycle flows are high, consideration should be given to a separate right-of-way for bicyclists past the narrow area.
• A textured surface such as brick or pavers may be used to emphasize pedestrian crossing movement. Substituting this for the normal roadway surface material may also help to impress upon motorists that lower speeds are intended.
• Such measures should not confuse pedestrians with respect to the boundary of the roadway area over which due care should still be taken. In particular, where a road is raised to the level of the adjacent sidewalk, this can cause problems for those with poor sight. However, a tactile strip may help blind people in distinguishing between the roadway and the sidewalk; similarly, a color variation will aid those who are partially sighted.
• Slow points can be used to discourage use of the street by large vehicles. They can, however, be barriers to fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. Some designs permit access by emergency vehicles by means of lockable posts or ramped islands.
• Slow points can enhance the appearance of the street. For example, landscaped islands can be installed, intruding into the roadway to form a narrow “gate” through which drivers must pass. Landscaping enhances the neighborhood’s sense of nature and provides a visual break in views along the street.
• Slow points are generally only sanctioned where traffic flows are less then 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles per day. Above this level, considerable delays will occur during peak periods.
• Clear signing should indicate traffic flow priorities.
Next… Slow Point Examples