Research Papers

Traffic Calming Policies in Canada: A Description of Strategies In Two Major Cities

Version 1
Date added July 10, 2018
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Category 2018 CARSP XXVIII Victoria
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6C
Author/Auteur Fridman, Pitt, Rothman, Cloutier, Howard, Hagel, Macpherson
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

6C - Fridman


Traffic calming strategies aim to make roads safer for vulnerable road users by minimizing speed and volume on local and collector roads. Strategies include changes to the physical design of the road environment such as speed humps and raised crosswalks. In Canada, policy documents that outline recommended traffic calming strategies differ by city. Our objective was to describe policy documents related to traffic calming physical design strategies in two locations as part of a larger nation-wide project: Toronto, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta to determine:

1) Differences in the traffic calming strategies proposed in cities,
2) The degree to which specific strategies have been implemented,
3) Whether proposed strategies are evidence-based

We reviewed the most up-to-date traffic calming policy documents in both cities. We summarized the available strategies described in the documents, the primary purpose of the strategy and the target road user(s). We also quantified the implementation of specific strategies (e.g. speed humps) by measuring their proportion of all types of implemented traffic calming strategies where data were available. Finally, we identified which of the proposed strategies were evidence-based. Toronto has 15 and Calgary has 22 traffic calming strategies identified in their policy documents. Thirteen of the strategies are similar in the two cities, with Calgary having 9 not found in Toronto and Toronto having 2 not found in Calgary. Despite the variety of traffic calming strategies described in Toronto, the majority were speed humps (70.4%) and intersection narrowing (14.4%). Some of the strategies described in both cities' traffic-calming policies have conflicting evidence related to their effectiveness. The scientific evidence for on street parking, for example, is mixed for pedestrian safety and suggests negative consequences for cyclists. Despite this, on-street parking is listed in the policy documents of both cities as it is inexpensive, reduces speed and may possibly reduce short-cutting or through traffic. Although there are some similarities in traffic-calming strategies between Toronto and Calgary, many differences exist. Policy documents from both cities outline strategies that have not proven to be effective in reducing motor vehicle conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists. Although there are other factors that come into play that affect strategy choice, scientific studies that examine intervention effectiveness need to be considered. We will continue to explore the differences in municipal traffic calming strategy choices and the reasons for those decisions. There are differences among traffic calming strategies proposed in two major Canadian cities. Not all proposed traffic-calming strategies are reflective of the best available evidence. Although a variety of traffic calming strategies are proposed in both Toronto and Calgary, there is little variety in the actual strategies implemented. Further work is needed to examine how decisions are made regarding which strategies are adopted. Future policy guidelines should also consider the evidence of effectiveness of safety for all vulnerable road users.