Speed Calming Humps - Pros and Cons
by: Dan Woomer
Revised & Updated 1/5/2018 by Kevin Plessner and Dan Woomer
Our neighbors on Forest View Road and West Maple Road recently asked LSIA to assist in installing Speed Calming Humps to slow the traffic through their streets. Anne Arundel County (the “County”) conducted two (2) traffic studies on Forest View Road and one (1) study on West Maple Road. The County study results concluded the amount of traffic on Forest View Road does not warrant the installation of Speed Calming Humps. However, for West Maple Road, the County did conclude there was sufficient traffic (between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles per day), and the average speed of the vehicles recorded during the study were exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. With the combination of these two findings, the County concluded that the West Maple Road findings do support the installation of Speed Calming Humps. Currently, for West Maple Road, the proposal is to install three (3) Speed Calming Humps.
There are two key events that need to occur before the installation can move forward:
(1) The affected residents must approve the installation of the Speed Calming Humps, and
(2) The community must come up with the funding to pay for the Speed Calming Hump installation.
On the latter point, LSIA is working on securing the required funding.
In order to determine whether the community approves of the installation of the Speed Calming Humps, LSIA will hold a meeting to obtain community input and conduct a vote to install or not install the proposed Speed Calming Humps of the affected residents. Affected residents include all homes on West Maple Road, Dogwood Road, Shortcross Road, Longcross Road up to Greenwood Road, Groveland Road up to Hawthorne Road, and Woodland Road up to Hawthorne Road.
“Speed Bumps” versus “Speed Humps” -
Speed Bumps are often installed on large parking lots to significantly slow traffic. The “Bumps” are not very wide and have a high crown. Vehicles driving over these do have to significantly slow down or otherwise experience a very jarring bump as they cross over the bumps.
Speed Calming Humps are also installed to slow traffic. The “Humps” are typically used on residential roads, like West Maple Road, to slow vehicle speeds. The “Humps” are much wider than “Speed Bumps” with a similar crown height. The profile of the Speed Calming Hump is designed to allow vehicles to cross over the “Humps” at or below the posted speed limit without much of a jarring to the vehicle. As the vehicle speed increases over the posted speed limit, the jarring to the vehicle increases.
Quite often the terms “Speed Humps” and “Speed Bumps” are used interchangeably. What is being considered to be installed on West Maple road are “Speed Humps.”
What’s The Problem -
As verified by the Anne Arundel County study on traffic using West Maple Road, excessive speeding is a real problem. The excessive vehicle speed is a danger to all, including to the children riding bikes, scooters and skate boards, or otherwise crossing, walking and running on our residential streets, as well as our neighbors walking their dogs, biking or jogging around our community. Vehicles that are exceeding the speed limit while driving through our community need to be slowed down.
What’s Happened in the Past -
Anne Arundel County police set up a speed “trap” on West Maple Road, stopping anyone exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 miles per hours. Several residents were stopped and received speeding tickets or warnings.
Again, speeding on West Maple Road has been a long-term problem, and it is unlikely we can have Anne Arundel County Police continue to maintain a speed trap to catch those driving along West Maple Road traveling faster than the posted speed limit.
It is also unlikely installing an electronic “Speed Warning Sign” (like the ones we see near schools) will have much of an effect on reducing vehicle speeds on West Maple Road.
Install Speed Humps – A View from the Past
This is not the first time the idea of installing Speed Humps on West Maple Road was investigated. During November to December 1999, the residents along West Maple Road were pursuing the installation of speed humps, but the affected community residents were surveyed and 77% voted against installing Speed Calming Humps on West Maple Road. Specifically, of the 104 “qualified” ballots (one is postmarked by December 3, 1999), 80 households (77%) were against installing Speed Calming Humps on West Maple Road and 24 households (23%) were in favor. It is worth noting that of the 30 West Maple Road resident ballots counted, 15 residents were in favor of installing the Speed Calming Humps and 15 were opposed—a 50-50 split. Residents in favor of installing the Speed Calming Humps tried to collect funds for the installation themselves but were unable to do so.
Since the vote was held in 1999, the speed problem appears to be continuing. There is now hard data confirming the problem with a significant number of the daily vehicle traffic speeding on West Maple Road. Such speeding poses a real danger to our neighbors. Thus, the possible installation of Speed Calming Humps is again being investigated.
Here are some of the PROs to install Speed Calming Humps –
(1) There is a real and verified speeding problem on West Maple Road that poses a danger to our neighbors.
(2) Speed Calming Humps are known to slow vehicle traffic. Keeping vehicle traffic speeds closer to the posted speed limit increases the safety for our neighbors.
Here are some of the CONs to installing Speed Calming Humps -
(1) They are expensive to install and expensive to maintain - Speed humps can cost $4,500 to $7,500.
Source: The Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2008
UPDATE 1/2/2017 – The Anne Arundel County cost estimate is less than $1,900 per speed hump and the project is expected to be funded by LSIA using a Community Enhancement Grant. LSIA will consider maintenance to the Speed Humps should any be necessary in the future.
(2) Speed Humps slow the response times of emergency vehicles. Police and other emergency vehicles response time are slowed by about three seconds for each Speed Calming Hump they must cross. Given the onboard water and vehicle weight, each Speed Calming Hump costs fire engines ten seconds in response time. Add this on top of the possible delay waiting for the light rail crossing can cause. Linthicum is blessed with the close proximity of emergency services in our community. As a community to a wide range of ages, rapid access from our youngest to our oldest community members in times of need is critical to saving lives and property. Sometimes seconds count – heart attack, stroke, pedestrian hit by a vehicle, fire, etc.
Source: ABC Orlando/WFTV, Jan. 28, 2010
Fire Capt. Jeffrey Martin, St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 2, 2008
Tampa Tribune, Sept. 20, 2008
(3) Speed Humps can reduce property values - prospective homebuyers might reject home sites near speed humps.
Source: Tampa Bay Online, Sept. 30, 2009
(4) Speed Humps increase noise levels - Speed Calming Humps usher in the sounds of scraping cars and engines revving over the humps.
Tampa Bay Online, Aug. 12, 2009
(5) Speed Humps have a negative effect on the environment, increasing pollution as vehicles slow well below the speed limit and then accelerate away. They increase air pollution - on roads with Speed Calming Humps, one study found carbon monoxide emissions increased by 82 percent, carbon dioxide emissions double and nitrogen oxide increased by 37 percent.
Source: BBC.com, April 22, 2009
(6) Speed Humps reduce vehicle fuel efficiency and increase gas consumption because drivers brake and accelerate as they traverse each Speed Calming Hump.
Source: BBC.com, April 22, 2009
(7) Speed Humps increase noise levels where they are implemented. This is due to both engine and brake noise from people slowing down and speeding up and from trucks and school busses that bounce as they cross the Speed Calming Hump.
(8) Speed Humps can cause damage to vehicles, particularly performance vehicles (even at low speed). They increase the wear and tear on residential and commercial vehicles - Speed Calming Humps are a source of excessive wear on tires, brakes, suspension systems, shock absorbers and rattle dashboards.
Source: The Natchez Democrat, Oct. 28, 2009
(9) Speed Humps may cause discomfort to drivers and passengers.
(10) Speed Humps cause ground vibration when vehicles navigate them and send shockwaves to the nearby homes. The cumulative effect has been proven to damage nearby properties, such as cracks developing in exterior masonry walls and in the drywall constructed walls within homes. In fact, the official UK regulations state that such humps may not be implemented anywhere within 25 meters of bridges, subways or tunnels.
(11) Speed Humps often divert traffic to alternative residential streets. Greenwood & Hawthorne will likely see an increase in traffic as residents living on North and South Longcross, Groveland Road, and Woodland Road, will choose to avoid Maple Road, especially when heading north on Hammonds Ferry Road. Cleveland Road and Shipley Road will likely see some uptick in traffic as residents move to avoid using West Maple Road.
(12) Speed Humps cost drivers money by using more fuel and brake pads in addition to the damage caused to suspension, oil sumps and exhausts, etc. Such damage makes cars more dangerous.
(13) When vehicles drive over Speed Humps with their lights on, this points the dipped beam up to eye level. This not only causes light pollution in nearby houses, but also gives the illusion of the headlights being flashed, dazing and causing confusion to other motorists, which increases the potential for accidents.
(14) Speed Humps are expensive to remove. Municipalities, under pressure by citizens and enforced by the courts, have been forced to remove speed humps at great expense to tax payers.
Source: Tampa Bay Online, Sept. 30, 2009
(15) Speed Humps are a poor substitute for active enforcement.
Specifically, for West Maple Road:
(1) West Maple Road has historically served as the main route to enter the residential area, and as the Anne Arundel County traffic study indicates, this remains the primary entry into the residential area.
(2) Again, historically, West Maple Road is the first road cleared following a snow event. When there have been significant snow events, West Maple Road to Woodland Road and down Cleveland Road to Nursery Road were the roads first cleared. There have been occasions when the connection roads, like Greenwood, Hawthorne Road, Longcross Road, etc., were not cleared until one to two days later. During this period, West Maple Road was the only entry to the streets crossing West Maple Road.
(3) With snow and ice on West Maple Road, vehicles needed to accelerate to make it up the hill. It is unknown whether the Speed Calming Humps will have an effect on the ability to generate the momentum needed to make it up the hill.
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So, What are We to Do -
While there are known negative consequences with the installation of Speed Calming Humps, something needs to be done to slow the vehicle speeds on West Maple Road. The installation of Speed Calming Humps may be the best solution available. If the community decides to move forward with the installation we will need to see if any of the known negative consequences materialize and assess the degree of their impact.
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Reference Sources -
Reuben Castenada and Steven Gray, “Maryland Boy, 13, Dies in Fire at Friend’s Sleepover,” THE WASHINGTON POST, June 15, 1998 (Firefighter Stottlemeyer descends into basement to rescue child as flashover occurs forcing his exit from the home.)
Jen Chaney, “Fatal fire renews speed hump debate,” GAITHERSBERG GAZETTE, July 8, 1998 (Impact of delay caused by humps on street on rescue of child.)
Editorial, “Meeting air standards Maine’s obligation too,” PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, October 17, 1997 (Ruling of EPA)
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Jean-Martin Kuntscher, “Speed bumps cause ten times more air pollution,” ALLIANCE INTERNATIONALE DE TOURISME, FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L’AUTOMOBILE, September 6, 1994
Lisa Marshall, “Circles called hazards,” THE DAILY CAMERA, December 12, 1996
Paul Marston, “Humps increase exhaust fumes,” UK NEWS, ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH, January 14, 1998
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Mark Shanahan, “Federal government pulls funds from traffic-slowing experiment,” PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, August 18, 1998
Matt Schwartz, “HUD labels Dian Street gate discriminatory, asks removal,” THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, October 15, 1998
Joanne B. Walker, “Speed bumps, tables meet legal obstacle,” ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, August 1998 (Judge Bennett rules in favor of 2 citizens who have filed suit against city for placing devices on streets used for traffic control which are not approved traffic control devices in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.)
John Williams, “Street Warfare” (Intersection sealing brings racism calls.) THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, July 10, 1994
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Accessible Rights-of-Way: Sidewalks, street crossings, other pedestrian facilities, U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, U.S. Access Board, November 1999.
“All Vehicle VOC and NOX Emission Factors by Speed, Summer and Winter,” graph provided by Ron Severence, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 1997
An Analysis of Leadership, Politics and Ethics in the Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project, Part III, Ethics in the Stevens Avenue Project” by Scott Landry, Scot Mattox, Sara & Celeste Vigor, May 14, 1998 (Graduate paper for Muskie Institute at University of Maine Law School)
Boulder Fire Department Master Plan, Kevin Klein for City of Boulder CO, 1996
Building a True Community Final Report, Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee, U.S. Access Board, January 10, 2001
Deaths Expected from Delayed Emergency Response Due to Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation, Ronald R. Bowman, April 3, 1997
An Evaluation of the Speed Hump Program in the City of Berkeley, October 1997 (Damage to vehicles, impact on ambulance and fire services and people with disabilities.)
Guidelines for the Design and Application of Speed Humps, Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1997
The Impacts of Traffic Calming Measures on Vehicle Exhaust Emissions, United Kingdom, Transport Research Laboratory Report 482, PG Boulter, AJ Hickman
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911 Emergency Gate Review, Fire Chief Les Tyra, City of Houston Fire Department, November 17, 1998
Possible Neighborhood Traffic Calming Methods, Report to city council of Sunnyvale, CA, February 4, 1997 (Potential liability.)
Speed Hump/UC Plan Presentation Outline, draft report, Susan Sanderson, Transportation Planner, City of Berkeley, (Emergency response concerns from proliferation of speed humps. Humps not the tool felt they were.) 1995.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest, The American Heart Association, 1996
A Survey of Traffic Calming Practices in the United States, Institute of Urban and Regional Development by Asha Weinstein and Elizabeth Deakin, University of California at Berkeley, March 1998, (Conflict in neighborhoods.)
Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project, DeLuca-Hoffman Associates Inc., May 27, 1998, Portland, Maine (Increased accidents and pollution from traffic calming project.)
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“An Analysis of Speed Hump Effects on Response Times,” City of Austin, TX Fire Department, January 20, 1999
“The Effects of Speed Humps and Traffic Circles on Responding Fire-Rescue Apparatus in Montgomery County, Maryland,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Commission, August 1997
The Influence of Traffic Calming Devices on Fire Vehicle Travel Times,” Portland Bureau of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Service, January 1996
Memorandum from Nels Tahti, Administrative Analyst, City of Roseville, CA Fire Department (Time trials on streets with series of speed humps), June 4, 1991
Letter from Earl Noe, “I have disabled your car… because you have so little regard for laws,” THE BOULDER PLANET, October 9-15, 1996 (Opponent of devices has tires slashed.)
Letter from Karen Craig, Chair, Commission on Disability, Berkeley CA to Berkeley Mayor and City Council, November 10, 1998 (Problems of the disabled with vertical deflection devices.)
Letter from Special Transit of Boulder, CO to Boulder City Council, April 3, 1997 (Problems of disabled riders with vertical and horizontal deflection devices.)
Letter from Steven Beningo, Division Transportation Planner, USDOT, to Commissioner John Melrose, Maine DOT, August 13, 1998, (Rescinds funds for Portland’s traffic calming project because of increased emissions.)
Affidavit of Settlement for Permanent Disability for fire fighter, George Gosbee, Montgomery County, MD, 1998 (Settlement of $ 3,000 per month for life for injury sustained when hit speed hump traveling to scene of emergency.)
Appellant’s Brief in, Slager v. Duncan and Montgomery County MD to U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit (Unpublished opinion, sets no precedent by rules of the court.)
Final Judgment, Twelfth Circuit Court of the State of Florida, June 29, 1998 (Judge Robert B. Bennet rules in favor of Windom and Hartenstine of Sarasota, FL)
Opinion of Attorney General, State of Maryland, No. 86-021, April 2, 1986 (Potential liability.)
Opinion of Thomas R. Powell, Senior Assistant City Attorney, The City of Wichita, KS April 1, 1986 (Potential liability.)
Housing Discrimination Complaint, filed by Calvin Hummer, President, Meadow Walk Town Home Association, Houston TX, May 28, 1997
“The Other Pine Intersections,” Ronald Bowman, 1996 (Graph showing increase in accidents at intersections with traffic circles on Pine St., Boulder CO.)
Program Application for CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) funds from City of Portland, July 1994. (City agrees to remove temporary measures if CMAQ determines emissions are not lowered by project.)
“Traffic Calming Devices,” 1996, Portland Bureau of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, 55 SW Ash St., Portland, OR 97204