Traffic Calming: The Power of the Whiteboard

Tonight council approved sweeping simplifications to the traffic calming ordinances and to the processes residents must go through to get village help in their neighborhoods; help to combat drivers that drive too fast down residential streets.

Unlike the recent updating of ordinances, definitions, and language undertaken singly by the Planning Department, Acting Village Manager Dave Fieldman and Assistant Village Manager Mike Baker, along with Interim Public Works Director Robin Weaver and her department, the Planning Department, Police Department, Village Attorney Enza Petrarca, and others, all huddled around a whiteboard and hashed it out.

What was wrong with the traffic ordinances? What frustrated residents about the current process? Where did the complaints come from (other than from Traffic Calming Czar Bill Wrobel, who has single handedly made the village sit up and take notice)? How could they make it easier to pinpoint problem areas? How could they shorten the curve to get to a faster response? And on and on; in short: how could they do better?

  • The existing traffic calming ordinances seemingly were written specifically to prevent any traffic calming from actually taking place.
  • Current policy forced staff down regimented steps that they could not avoid even when it obviously needed to be.
  • There were arcane technical requirements that needed to be fulfilled before any action could be contemplated.
  • There was an 18 step process that needed to be followed exactly, involving multiple petitions and neighborhood meetings that made it impossible for residents to move a request all the way through to completion.
  • There was no resident supervision of the process, no “Plan Commission” for traffic calming requests, staffed by residents who would be more sympathetic to the process.
  • There was no council input or approval in the process at all.

The 2005 Residents Calming Program Handbook is 31 pages of Kafkaesque frustration. The sooner this link disappears and a new handbook appears, the better. Residents that had the fortitude to see it all the way through were rewarded usually with a week or two of extra police drive throughs, and then back to the normal SNAFU.

Now, staff has changed the playing field, changed it drastically in the residents favor, by designing the process for resident input, resident evaluation, and council final approval. In short, they changed what needed to be changed to get results.

As few as five residents, say that all live on a corner that drivers take at high speed for no good reason, can petition the village once for assistance in slowing down speeders. Now, rather than seeming to provide the reasons why nothing will ever happen, the village staff seems dialed in to helping identify and treat dangerous areas. With the new traffic devices purchased by the village, temporary speed humps can be placed to slow down drivers, or persuade them that this side street isn’t the great time saving cut through they thought.

Now, all types of possible remedies are on the table:radar trailers, medians, roadway narrowings, speed cushions (humps, tables, etc), turn restrictions, chicanes, raised crosswalks, and raised intersections, two very effective more permanent calming device that encourages appropriate intersection speeds.

Like the Planning Department changes to code, this is a welcome update to make traffic calming easier and more readily accessible to residents in areas that really need it.

From the green sheets:

“The proposed amendmentto the enabling ordinance will reduce the burden on residents seeking traffic calming measures in their neighborhood and will allow staff to be more responsive to various traffic related concerns.”


Posted in traffic. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Traffic Calming: The Power of the Whiteboard”

  1. DGDood Says:

    Good post, but “Woot”?



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