Canada’s housing agency has concluded that speed bumps not only fuel anger among drivers – who have to slow down to approach a bump, then speed up, then slow down for the next one – but also increase fuel consumption and cause more greenhouse-gas emissions than if they were traveling at a constant speed.
A study by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has found that traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps, speed humps (wider bumps), raised intersections, traffic circles and stop signs actually “increase automobile emissions and reduce air quality” – the exact opposite of what is needed in the battle against global warming.
These band-aid solutions to bad planning also come with a high price tag. Speed humps – which cost $3,000 a pop – are “very difficult to install” and if they don't get the height exactly right the cars bottom out, diverting tax dollars needed to fund sustainable transportation.
CMHC is touting a fused-grid pattern combining the compact street patterns introduced before cities were overwhelmed by cars, with the looping suburban streets of today, which discourage walking and cycling because it takes so long to get anywhere.
The CMHC version would combine the traditional grid pattern with cul-de-sacs and T-intersections, connected with footpaths and parks to encourage pedestrians. There would be less road surface, improving rainwater management and making neighborhoods quieter, safer and more sociable.
Let’s hope they can sell their ideas to engineers and developers.