Winter 2001, p.9

Speed Hump Confusion Continues

There are good reasons speed humps are very popular. They are cheap to install, and they work. The DOT has more than a thousand backlogged speed hump requests. This log jam is due in large part to the NYC Department of Transportation's continued lack of a speed hump and community review process. It is also a product of the absence of any group within DOT designated to deal expressly with traffic calming requests.

The DOT says its priority is installing speed humps around schools, senior centers, and playgrounds. This is good - but what does it really mean? In some neighborhoods, hump requests are routed through the community boards, and in others they go through the DOT Borough Commissioner's Office and then get sent back to the community board. This is a long process, and requests may languish for years.

It is a difficult task in a city the size of New York to develop an efficient speed hump process, while incorporating public participation. But the DOT has had years to fine tune a workable policy. The following are needed steps to get the DOT's traffic calming program on the right track:

A clear review policy is needed for all traffic calming devices, including speed humps. This policy should be posted on the DOT website, and distributed to the public, community boards, and elected officials. For example, Portland, Oregon, has posted a traffic calming website that details its traffic calming efforts, including how projects are selected, how streets qualify for speed humps, and its speed hump evaluation and ranking process.

Lists of potential speed hump sites should be distributed on a regular basis to neighborhood and civic groups, and community boards for their comments. Public input is very important in establishing effective traffic calming. Decisions to determine the validity of speed hump requests should be made by legislators, elected by and accountable to the public.

Revive and expand the DOT Traffic Calming Unit. Use this group as a clearinghouse for traffic calming information, and coordination of requests.

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