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TRAFFIC CALMING POLICY REVIEW
What is Traffic Calming?
Voice Your Views & Concerns
After studying the material on this web site, please provide your views, concerns and ideas about the future of traffic calming in Knoxville.
Policy Review Timeline
What is Traffic Calming?
Traffic Calming Devices
Background
Current Practice
Peer City Review
Neighborhood Survey Results
Other Resources
Traffic Calming Home Page
As defined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, traffic calming is a "combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users."

Essentially, traffic calming is the attempt to slow and/or reduce motor vehicle traffic through neighborhood areas, often through physical street measures, to increase road safety and allow for more livable communities with better pedestrian and bicycle conditions. Additionally, traffic calming measures can include education and enforcement.

Here is an explanation of the three primary approaches to traffic calming, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

EDUCATION

One way to combat speeding is to conduct a public awareness campaign. Such campaigns take different forms in different cities, but they usually involve public service announcements on radio and television stations and use of social media. See the "Other Resources" Page -- Traffic Calming Education Campaigns section.

Advantages
  • Can be implemented in a relatively short period of time.
  • Fairly non-controversial.
  • When carried out by residents, can increase personal investment in the community.
  • Has had some success in reducing speed.
  • Effort does not have to be limited to city government: Neighborhood organizations, other civic groups and businesses could also promote traffic safety.

    Disadvantages
  • Hard to measure success.
  • Effectiveness may decrease if the awareness campaign is not sustained.
  • Costs can be moderately high, depending on degree to which professional marketing assistance and paid advertising are employed.

    ENFORCEMENT

    In many cities, including Knoxville, residents can request that the police department enforce speed laws and traffic safety in the area for a period of time. For more information about KPD's neighborhood patrol units, see the "Current Practices" page.

    Advantages
  • Officers dedicated to traffic safety for the committed time, resulting in speeding citations and a reduction in speeding.
  • Does not entail potentially negative effects of physical devices.
  • No permanent changes made.

    Disadvantages
  • Due to limited resources, only a certain number of neighborhood enforcement zones can be monitored at any one time.
  • Locations must be high traffic areas to justify time investment.
  • Once the enforcement units moves on, effectiveness diminishes as drivers become aware enforcement has ended.

    ENGINEERING (PHYSICAL DEVICES)

    A number of cities install physical devices that, by altering the street environment, are intended to reduce traffic speed and/or volume. For a list and description of various traffic calming devices, click here to visit the Traffic Calming Device page.

    Advantages
  • Can reduce motor vehicle speed and/or volume.
  • Can discourage cut-through traffic.
  • Can be designed to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
  • Reduces the need for enforcement.
  • Reduces traffic related noise caused by volume.
  • Can enhance the street environment and/or aesthetics.
  • Are permanent solutions.

    Disadvantages
  • Can be expensive.
  • Takes considerable time to implement.
  • Can reduce aesthetics of neighborhood
  • May slow emergency response vehicles.
  • May impede other service vehicles such as street cleaners.
  • Can be controversial among neighborhood residents.
  • May need initial police enforcement to be effective.
  • Can have negative impacts on local vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access in the neighborhood if those concerns are not incorporated into the design.
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