To the residents of a community, the perception is often that specific streets are residential, almost to the exclusion of all others. To the public at large, those same streets are public thoroughfares maintained by the public for the benefit of all.
To the government agency responsible for maintenance and safety on the street, it is a balancing act to be performed with limited resources. Inappropriate circumstances, traffic calming measures can be used to maintain decorum while facilitating the safe passage of vehicles through a neighborhood.
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If a street is primarily residential in nature and there is a high volume of through traffic with a high accident potential due to speeding, or if there is a more suitable nearby alternate route but motorists are using a residential street for convenience (because it is ten seconds faster or because they can avoid a traffic signal), then it may be appropriate to install traffic calming measures.
On the other hand, if a street connects sizeable traffic generators (major roads, population centers, office development, shopping centers, etc.), if it is the most suitable and practical public thoroughfare for motorists, or if it frequently serves emergency vehicles, traffic calming may be inappropriate.
What is the purpose of Traffic Calming?
There are primarily two goals for traffic calming measures. First, traffic calming measures are intended to persuade motorists to use a more suitable route, if one is available.
Alternatively, traffic calming measures should persuade motorists to respect the residential character of the street (drive more slowly and be more aware of children, pedestrians, and cyclists) and to address any potential safety concerns without inducing motorists to drive on someone else's street.