Summer 2002, p.17
Speed Humps Quiet Streets
The New York City DOT has a
backlog of more than 1,000 speed hump requests. This means hundreds of
community groups, churches and block associations are waiting in vain for the
City to do something about their speeding and traffic safety problems.
Make no mistake, speed humps work. They are by far the most effective device the city has to slow traffic and reduce crashes on neighborhood streets. Indeed, their very effectiveness is why short-cutting motorists do not like them.
Motorists' favorite complaint is that speed humps increase traffic noise. However, all of the research on the subject shows the opposite.
The New York City Department of Transportation's Speed Hump Noise Impact Survey measured overall noise and maximum level noise on 21 streets with speed humps and 19 adjacent control streets. The DOT found that the loudest noises decreased substantially after humps were installed, while background, or "ambient" traffic noise, remained unchanged.
A much larger British government study of speed humps and noise found that humps reduce both the maximum and average traffic noise. However, the study also found that installing humps on streets carrying 20% or more truck traffic creates more noise. The British study also found that, while speed humps do help reduce traffic noise, they should be installed in pairs and no more than 100 yards apart. The DOT's recent practice of installing single speed humps at long distances between humps encourages drivers to accelerate, creating noise.
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