Slow Your Street Guide wins TRB Award
Trailnet has received an award from the Transportation Research Board for Slow Your Street: A How-To Guide for Pop-up Traffic Calming. Grace Kyung, Trailnet’s Special Projects Director, developed the guide to make it easier for everyone to create their own pop-up traffic calming demonstrations. Trailnet has installed these temporary demonstrations in several St. Louis neighborhoods to show how streets can be designed for those who walk and bike. Several other cities, including Tulsa and Indianapolis, are currently using the Guide to plan traffic calming demonstrations. View the Guide online. Read more about Trailnet’s pop-up traffic calming projects.
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Tactical Urbanism Webinar
Trailnet and the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association will be hosting a webinar on tactical urbanism on Thursday, March 2nd at 10am. The webinar will provide information about cross-sector collaboration and how it can have an impact on the built environment. Trailnet will also be sharing their success from the Plan4Health project. Learn more at Planners4Health. Register here.
CDC Recognizes Our Traffic Calming Demonstrations
Trailnet’s Traffic Calming Demonstrations Now Part of National CDC Online Library
Traffic calming demonstrations produce promising data
In fall of 2015, the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association collaborated with Trailnet, the HEAL Partnership, the City of St. Louis, and community residents to host four pop-up traffic calming demonstrations within the City of St. Louis. The demonstrations showcased proven methods of slowing traffic and increasing safety with traffic calming designs. The Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association, Trailnet and the HEAL Partnership used these demonstrations to educate community members, elected officials, and city staff on how we can work together to create safer and more pleasant streets.
Like most U.S. cities, the St. Louis designed its streets to prioritize people driving, making our city less pleasant and less safe for people on foot. In the U.S., 12 percent of fatal traffic crashes involve people walking; however, in St. Louis that figure is 36 percent. Last year, 19 pedestrians were killed in the City of St. Louis. In fact, more pedestrians were killed in 2015 than in 2013 and 2014 combined. These sobering statistics earned St. Louis a designation as a Focus City by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, joining 16 other U.S. cities in which pedestrian and bicycle deaths are higher than the national average.
These crashes are a consequence of streets designed to accommodate streetcars and high levels of traffic. For example, some residential streets in St. Louis are as wide as 65 feet, which is wide enough for five highway lanes. This encourages excessive speeding and puts people that walk in danger. Moreover, high-traffic, high-speed roads create impassable boundaries that effectively turn neighborhoods into “islands” for people walking. For households that do not have any cars, high stress roads limit access to important amenities, such as parks and schools. Pedestrian safety is a growing concern in St. Louis, and traffic calming can help solve this problem by slowing down vehicles and prioritizing safe and pleasant streets over moving traffic.
At the pop-up traffic calming demonstrations in the neighborhoods of Dutchtown, Carondelet, JeffVanderLou and the Ville, colorful tires, cones and plants were used to narrow traffic lanes, add roundabouts, create medians, extend sidewalks, and highlight crosswalks. In each neighborhood, speed guns were used to collect speed data; trained volunteers observed and tallied vehicular stops as “completely stopped,” “rolling stop, or “no stop” and Trailnet surveyed residents of the neighborhood on their perceptions of the street’s safety and accessibility. Data was collected during the demonstrations as well as on non-demonstration days to help understand how traffic calming impacted the neighborhoods.
With traffic calming measures in place, cars drove slower, came to more complete stops, and were less likely to roll through stop signs. Residents expressed that their local streets felt safer and more pleasant. During the traffic calming demonstrations, residents said it was easier to cross the street since it was more likely cars would obey stop signs and follow the speed limit. In most neighborhoods, the survey results indicated the traffic calming demonstrations improved residents’ perceptions of the street’s safety, and most residents expressed that the demonstrations made their street feel more pleasant.
Trailnet looked at average differences in response taken during demonstrations as well as without a demonstration in place. In most neighborhoods, the survey analysis showed the demonstrations results were positive in regards of safety.
The only exception was in the Dutchtown neighborhood (Gasconade Street between Compton Avenue and Minnesota Avenue). While some of the survey results in Dutchtown were negative, the survey analysis suggests that these differences might have been random occurrences. These results can be partly explained by the fact that some residents were hesitant with certain aspects of the Dutchtown demonstration. For example, some residents felt they weren’t well enough informed about the traffic calming demonstrations and were upset to have parking spaces were removed from the street. also, some residents were hesitant about one of the proposed traffic calming designs; the chicane, which causes drivers to swerve slightly. Residents feared the design would turn Gasconade Street into a one-way street. In reality, this feature maintains a two-way street with enough space to have two cars pass each other.
Overall, in all four neighborhoods, average vehicle speed fell nearly 7 mph with the traffic calming demonstrations in place. When pedestrian crashes do occur, slower vehicle speeds result in fewer pedestrian deaths.
The Ville demonstration (St. Louis Avenue between Sarah Street and Whittier Street) was especially successful with the average vehicle speed falling nearly 13 mph and the number of complete stops during the demonstration increasing from 34 percent to 65 percent. The demonstration site was served by four bus stops, so the increased stops helped people to get to their buses safely throughout the day.
Because of the success of these events, Trailnet is making the resources from these demonstrations available for free to any organization or St. Louis neighborhood wanting to create a similar demonstration in their community. For information on accessing these materials, contact Grace Kyung at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-436-1324 ext. 110.
To see the full results from these demonstrations see the infographic below.
Traffic Calming Infographic
The speed cushion: one of many great traffic calming tools
The Plan4Health project has proven to be an asset in creating important conversations around traffic calming. It has also helped the Healthy Eating Active Living Partnership strengthen relationships with other stakeholders in the St. Louis region.
Among other opportunities, the Plan4Health project lead to a renewed connection between Trailnet and local bicycle advocate Martin Pion. Martin has been working hard to create dialogue around effective measures for traffic calming. He was very generous in allowing Trailnet to use his temporary speed cushion at one of our four traffic calming demonstrations.
Speed cushions are similar to speed humps, but they have a smaller surface area and can be offset with wheel cutouts, allowing larger vehicles (like emergency vehicles) to pass through without reducing their speed.
Trailnet thanks Martin for the donation of his speed cushion and for sharing his resources with us. To learn more about Martin’s work please read this article he posted on traffic calming.
St. Louisans are fortunate to enjoy lush greenspace in our numerous parks, fine food offered through restaurants and a growing fleet of food trucks, a vibrant art and music scene, and a champion baseball team. These many assets are clouded by statistics that rank St. Louis as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians. In the U.S. as a whole, 12 percent of lethal traffic accidents involve pedestrians. This number compares to 14 percent in Europe and 25 percent in China. In St. Louis, 36 percent of fatal accidents affect pedestrians. In the first six months of 2015, 15 pedestrians were killed in the city of St. Louis, many in hit-and-run incidents. These sobering statistics earned St. Louis a designation as a Focus City by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, joining 21 other U.S. cities in which pedestrian deaths are higher than the national average.
A number of factors have contributed to creating this risky environment for pedestrians, most notably road designs that prioritize automobiles over pedestrian safety, and excessive speed of car traffic. Statistics indicate that pedestrians struck by cars travelling at 20 miles per hour generally suffer minor injuries and fatalities are below 10 percent. As speeds increase, the risk to pedestrians involved in collisions rises dramatically: at 30 mph, 45 percent of pedestrians who are struck suffer fatal injuries; when struck by a car traveling above 40 mph, pedestrian mortality increases to 80 percent.
Trailnet was recently awarded a Plan4Health grant in collaboration with the HEAL Partnership to improve the safety of pedestrians in the city of St. Louis. Our efforts will begin with community meetings in the Ville, Greater Ville, Carondelet, Dutchtown, and Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhoods to learn about residents’ concerns about pedestrian safety. These meetings will be followed by walk audits and “pop-up traffic calming” demonstrations in the neighborhoods. Traffic-calming measures help to decrease vehicle speeds and provide refuges for pedestrians. These measures include infrastructure changes such as speed bumps, roundabouts and pedestrian islands.
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