Traffic Calming: Political Dimensions
As we use it, the concept of traffic calming refers to engineering measures (speed humps, curb extensions, etc.) and implementation strategies (30-km/h zones, meeting zones, etc.) that reduce speeds and/or motorized traffic volumes on existing public roadways. The many intervention strategies used by public authorities can be classified into two categories. One can be designated the black-spots approach, and the other the area-wide approach. Following our definition, the strategies based on the black-spots approach are those in which measures are implemented at specific and isolated targeted spots within the road network (an intersection or on a street, for example). In strategies based on the area-wide approach, measures are deployed in an integrated manner in a zone made up of more than one street.
The purpose of this document is to provide public health authorities in Canada with a few political reference points on two approaches so that they may better assess, if they deem this type of public action pertinent, ways of promoting traffic-calming strategies adapted to their respective contexts. This briefing note is divided into three sections. In the first, we present the similarities and differences between the two approaches in terms of principles and objectives, implementation methods and the various forms of intervention. In the second, we examine the political circumstances under which the two approaches are deployed. Lastly, in the third section, we evaluate the implications for public health authorities seeking to promote traffic-calming strategies.