How to Get Speed Humps in Your Neighborhood

This Page Will Teach You How To:

  • Organize your campaign
  • Build a case and communicate with local government
  • Determine if speed humps are right for your street
  • Get your local government to act

Definitions

  • Speed Hump (not speed bump)-- The appropriate traffic calming device for residential streets. Modern humps are made from recycled rubber and sold as individual segments for a "custom fit." For more info,click here.
  • Traffic Calming -- Methods and street modifications that curb speeding and encourage responsible driving, promoting people-friendly streets.
  • Traffic Study/Speed Study -- A short study, conducted by local officials (usually traffic division of your precinct) that warrants traffic calming measures for your community.

 

speed hump.jpegImage of  recycled rubber speed "hump"

What You Should Know Before Starting

  • Traffic calming matters are handled by local government. Some munipalities only require a signed petition. Others are more thurough. Check online for your city's application process.
  • Policies also vary. Some cities pay for and install speed humps, some permit them but expect the neighborhood to pay, and others restrict traffic calming devices all together. 
  • When approaching city officials, be clear you represent a group of neighbors, not an individual. If the request comes through an existing organization (such as a neighborhood/homeowners association), officials are more likely to take it seriously.
  • Maintain regular communication with your neighbors and your municipality. Useful tools include group emails, and shared docs for data collection via dropbox or google docs.
  • Cities receive hundreds of requests every day so be persistent and remind your officials frequently of the need for safety.

Step #1: Talk to Your Neighbors 

Find out if your neighbors recognize speeding as a problem. Do they have specific safety concerns? How do they want to handle these? Are they interested in traffic calming devices? Let them know there are ways to reduce speeding and you’d like to discuss these.

Set up a meeting with concerned neighbors. If you can, organize this meeting through your block captain, neighborhood group, or homeowners association. You will have an easier time approaching local officials if you utilize existing leadership.

Step #2: Research Your City's Procedure

Before the meeting, be clear on the local procedure for traffic calming. These specifics will help you determine your course of action. Cities often require a traffic or speeding study before authorizing traffic calming, so your goal might be to prompt this.

  1. Identify appropriate department and contact person. The right department may be streets, public works, transportation or something else. You may need to call your city to find out.
  2. Identify legal and prefered traffic calming methods for your municipality. Not every city permits speed humps.
  3. Identify the local process for obtaining a traffic study. Check online.
  4. Print related guides and applications from your local government's website.

Step #3: Hold A Meeting and Determine Plan of Action

By now, you understand what your municipality does or does not require. Come prepared to share this information with your neighbors. Have all necessary print outs on hand including a petition. Make sure neighbors sign the petition durring the meeting. They should include their address so officials can see the number of households in favor of traffic calming.

  1. Define the target segment (beginning and end location) in need of traffic calming. Remember, speeding may start before and extend beyond your block.
  2. Establish who will serve as the community liaison -- the primary contact between the neighborhood and local officials. Decide how that person will keep everyone informed (group email, for example).
  3. It's not usually required, but it can help to collect testimonials from neighbors about how speeding and reckless driving effects their or their family's safety and impacts quality of life. You can audio record these stories and transcribe them later, or record them through a free service such as freeconferencecall.com then download them as MP3s.
  4. Determine what data needs to be collected (refer to step #4) and who will be responsible for collecting it. Figure out a schedule for who collects what data when. Establish a shared document (such as a google spreadsheet) where you collect and share this data as a group. Remember, your neighborhood is collecting data for the purpose of presenting it to city officials, so make sure the format is easy to understand.
  5. If neighbors are in favor of speed humps, ask if they willing to pay for  them. A four-segment (78-inch) speed hump covers standard vehicle track width and costs around $300.
  6. Field questions and address any concerns neighbors have regarding speed humps and other forms of traffic calming.

Step #4: Contact Local Officials

The community liaison should contact the following community officials: council person, police precinct, and fire house. Additionally, he/she should contact the appropriate city official (as determined in step #2).

Describe the speeding problem to each official:

  1. Provide the name of the neighborhood organization you are representing and give them the beginning and end location of the target segment.
  2. Tell them why you are concerned about speeding/reckless driving and site neighborhood testimonials/stories.
  3. Explain that you've held a meeting and have a petition with a certain number of signatures from residents in the target area.
  4. Explain the procedure you are following (If you have filled out and submitted the city's application form, say so).
  5. Be sure to ask the prescient and fire house if there are any concerns regarding emergency vehicle access. If so, ask if rerouting or other measures could help solve access issues.

Ask your officials if you are following procedure correctly. Do they have any suggestions? What additional instructions do they have? Are there resources they can provide? Ask the precinct if they are able to conduct a traffic study.

Report these answers back to your community.

Step #5: Define the Problem

 If your city does not provide an application form, you'll want to create a detailed explanation of how speeding is a problem for your neighborhood. Use the initial meeting time, or a follow up meeting, to answer these questions and develop a plan for data collection (step #3, question#4).

  1. Identify target segment -- start and end location.
  2. Explain how speeding effects the neighborhood -- here’s where accidents testimonials are important
  3. Data: Identify the number of pedestrian generating facilities (such as parks, restaurants, bars, transit stops, galleries, or any other place that encourages pedestrian activity)  and their proximity to the target area.
  4. Data: Identify the number of pedestrian generating activities and the frequency of occurrence. Do neighbors usually hang out outside, food truck or ice cream truck, kids usually play outside
  5. Data: Identify times of day when speeding occurs
  6. Data: Who is speeding? (hint: Is it the same cars habitually speeding? If you can, demonstrate that a number of cars are speeding).
  7. Data: Identify the number or percentage of pedestrians considered vulnerable population; this includes children under 12, seniors, cyclists, etc.

Optional DIY speed study: If you're precinct won't conduct a traffic study, you can ask to barrow a speed gun and conduct your own. You can also purchase a speed gun for around $80-$100. Learn how to conduct a speed study. 

Step #6: Determine if a Speed Hump is the Right Solution

Speed humps are inexpensive and incredibly effective, but they're not right for every road. A speed hump is an appropriate solution only if the target area meets the following requirements. If not, see these alternative traffic calming measures.

The target segment must be:

  1. Classified as a local road
  2. Not a primary emergency route/bus route/commercial truck route
  3. Relatively flat (less than 8 percent incline)
  4. Have a speed limit of 35mp or under

Step #7: Present Your Case

Gather the signed neighborhood petition along with official application or the documents created in steps 5. Include a short cover letter, along with your contact information, explaining the requested traffic calming solution and the reasons your community wants this. Indicate the starting and ending point of the target segment and the precise location you want speed humps installed (if applicable). Print (on official letterhead, if possible) and mail these to your city contact and local council person. You may also want to ask your council person to send a letter of support to the city contact. 

Step #8: Follow Up

If you do not hear back from your city contact within two weeks, call and follow up.  Ask when you can expect to receive and answer of the installation or on gaining appropriate permits. You may need to do this several times to get an answer. If necessary bring your formal complaint -- and other concerned neighbors -- to council meetings or other relevant public meetings.  

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