Traffic calming consists of physical design, put in place on roads with the intention of slowing down or reducing motor vehicle traffic and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Although there are many strategies used by urban planners and traffic engineers, the two most common types of traffic calming methods used in Escambia County are:
- Speed Humps – Speed humps are a raised area in the roadway pavement surface that extends across the travel lanes. Speed humps normally have a maximum height of 3 to 4 inches and a travel length of 12 feet. Within typical residential areas, speed humps create an interruption in speed that should cause most drivers to slow to approximately 15 miles per hour or less at each hump and to 25 to 30 miles per hour between properly spaced humps. Drivers may feel a jolt when passing over speed humps at a higher than recommended rate of speed.
Speed Tables – Speed tables are wide, flat-topped speed humps. They are typically constructed so that the entire wheelbase of a passenger car rests on the flat section. This design allows for vehicles to pass over them at a higher speed than speed humps. A textured material is sometimes used with speed tables in order to draw attention to them, enhancing safety and speed-reduction. Speed tables are good for locations where low speeds are desired but a somewhat smooth ride is needed for larger vehicles, such as fire trucks, ambulances and school buses.
Both speed humps and speed tables have been shown to reduce traffic volumes and speed on streets where they have been installed.
Escambia County’s traffic calming program is overseen by the Traffic Division of the Public Works Department and is only installed in a neighborhood upon request. Traffic calming efforts can be funded through an MSBU, which requires adjacent property owners to fund a portion of the cost to implement. For larger projects, and with consensus of the majority of neighborhood residents, Local Option Sales Tax funding may be available.
Many streets and roads in Escambia County were originally designed for automotive travel, with little consideration given to the needs of walkers. Lack of sidewalks and construction of sidewalks too close to roads discourage people from walking regularly. Well-maintained sidewalks are also important to neighborhood health because they improve the appearance of neighborhoods and increase property values. That’s why funds from the Local Option Sales Tax have been used to pay for almost $7 million in sidewalk improvements in Escambia County in recent years. In some cases, this funding has been used to leverage money obtained from grant programs such as Safe Route to Schools programs.
SRTS programs are part of the solution to increase physical activity and improve unsafe walking and bicycling conditions. Walking or biking to school allows children time for physical activity, creates a sense of responsibility and fosters independence. SRTS programs, in partnership with the Escambia/Santa Rosa Community Safety Team, place an emphasis on reducing traffic congestion, slowing vehicle speed and focusing on keeping children safe.
Teach Your Child How to Walk to School Safely: Tips from SafeRoutesInfo.org
Other Pedestrian Safety Efforts
Escambia County is also using Local Option Sales Tax funds to step up other efforts to make it easier to step out, including the installation of crosswalks in areas of high pedestrian traffic.
In order to provide the highest level of safety to those crossing at marked intersections, new crosswalks have been constructed using enhanced techniques to draw attention to pedestrians. Among these supplementary efforts are:
- Improved lighting. Adequate nighttime lighting is particularly important near schools, churches and community centers with nighttime pedestrian activity.
- Pedestrian warning signs. Warning signs, flashers and other traffic control devices are used at unusually hazardous locations or in places where pedestrian crossing activity is not readily apparent.
- In-pavement lighting. In-pavement lighting has been used on Pensacola Beach to alert motorists to the presence of a pedestrian crossing near Morgan Park on Pensacola Beach.