October/November 1999, p.5

What is Traffic Calming?

The wide median and narrow streets along Brooklyn's traffic calmed Flatbush Mall slow vehicles and make streets safer to bicycle and walk across."Traffic Calming" is the translation of the German word "Verkehrsberuhigung." The modern traffic calming movement began in Holland in the early 1970's. But the idea has been around since the ancient Romans used stepping stones to slow chariots at pedestrian crossings. Traffic calming street designs abound in pre-war U.S. cities, including NYC, before newer, auto-centric cities became common.

Traffic calming holds that streets are valuable public space and should be shared equally by all users. It is a set of street designs and traffic rules that slow and reduce traffic while encouraging walkers and cyclists to share the street. Traffic calming methods include: speed humps, raised crosswalks and raised intersections; extended and widened sidewalks; mini-roundabouts; widened medians; bicycle lanes and rumble strips. Traffic calming measures like speed humps are easily modified to accomodate emergency vehicles, garbage trucks and buses.

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