Transportation

Traffic Calming is also Social Engineering

By Ted Mitchell
Published April 17, 2007

Evelyn Myrie has an excellent article in today's Hamilton Spectator. An excerpt:

For several years, a dedicated group of Hamiltonians have been pushing for a safer city. They believe this will be achieved not through increased enforcement, but through engineering. They would like to see more two-way traffic flow, narrow lanes, non-synchronized traffic lights and tree-lined roadways.

This is all the more important because of the increase in traffic volume and size and power of vehicles. For example, the Nissan Altima, at $29,000, is a typical midsize car. It has 270 hp, an amount of power that blows away the numbers of the 1987 Camaro (215), Mustang (225), and M3 (195).

In just twenty years, yesterday's serious sports cars are now total wimps. What does that do to average city speeds when the vehicle you drive is so ridiculously overpowered for the posted speed limit?

Traffic calming is not only traffic engineering, it is also social engineering. A two-tonne vehicle with massive horsepower makes it easy to adopt an antisocial personality disorder, if only for the time you are behind the wheel.

When the streets cease to be wide open raceways and it is impossible to let loose those fossil horses, you become a little bit more human. And that's a good thing.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 17, 2007 at 14:33:37

I guess that article is a good start. It's no secret that engineering has a much MUCH greater impact on speeds than enforcement. At least the problem is getting some exposure. I'd like to see the Spec run an article that holds the city's hand through a step-by-step approach to implementing these engineering measures (I'm not sure they'll figure it out on their own).

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By adrian (registered) | Posted April 17, 2007 at 21:05:12

What "dedicated group" is she referring to? Could it be RTH? Or is there another group of people obsessed by traffic in the city? Bizarro Raise the Hammer?

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2007 at 22:31:53

Likely TLC, but a shame they don't name it. The city would have some explaining to do if TLC, HPD, etc suddenly became popular and had some weight behind their words.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 17, 2007 at 22:47:05

I think you're right A Robot. I don't think she was thinking of just one group. there are several with the same desire to see traffic calmed and balanced in Hamilton. RTH and TLC are two of them. She probably didn't have time to name them all.

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