Public Works designs measures into a project for this summer.
Claremont Drive is one of those unobtrusive residential streets that provide an alternate east west traverse from Main Street all the way through to Cass Avenue in Darien. While there are a couple curves at the Main Street end, for the most part it’s a straight shot from one end to the other. The problem has always been the street’s through nature encourages speeding, making the neighborhoods all along the way less safe, not just around those curves.
Unofficial “Traffic Czar” Bill Wrobel has championed this cause for several years, and single handedly made traffic calming best practices a campaign issue over two years ago. Armed with news reports, traffic safety studies, product information, and neighbor support, he not only opened the door for moving beyond simply putting in more stop signs; he pushed, pulled, supported and lauded village staff, led by then Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman, when they completely revamped village policy and procedure for locating, analyzing, and providing possible solutions to problem traffic areas in our village.
Commissioner Sean Durkin took up the cause of deploying traffic calming in general after attending a convention and specifically looking for traffic calming products and information. He went so far as to make a presentation to council and staff on the need, and on the measures that could be taken. As a direct result of those three combined efforts, the village purchased equipment from measures on Claremont Avenue
Public Works held public meetings for residents and received generally favorable feedback on the need for permanent solutions, and what they were proposing.
The Transportation and Parking Commission reviewed the results of the 2008 temporary calming measures, PW proposed plans, and approved moving forward with permanent solutions at their March meeting.
The Institute of Transportation Engineers defines traffic calming as “the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users” (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1999).
The permanent solutions Public Works has chosen to deploy employ three best practice devices designed to slow down dangerously fast traffic:
Bulb outs, so called because they are added to the outside edge of the street and create a designed intrusion into the street requiring the driver to pay attention and maneuver to curve around the bulb. Bulbs on both sides of the street create a neckdown.
Medians separate traffic, also narrowing the street, and are employed mainly leading into intersections. Medians are used where left-turns to and/or from the side street are unsafe. Trees are often planted in the median.
Speed humps span the entire street, and force cars to slow down. Speed humps are raised devices, parabolic in shape, placed across the road to slow traffic. They are often considered the most traditional traffic calming solution. Speed humps slow traffic more gradually than speed bumps, although less so than speed tables.
Speed tables are flat-topped speed humps, usually long enough for both axles of a car to be on top of at the same time. Speed tables allows for more gradual slowing of vehicle speed than humps, making them well suited for residential speed limits. Fire Departments usually prefer tables rather than humps.
Some may look at the project and think of it as overkill. Some residents thought maybe one or two items would suffice. In part, this is a trial to see what works best, so future projects can build off of what is learned here, and the neighborhood is in favor of making their main through street safer for everyone.
Look for resident “Traffic Czar” Bill Wrobel to speak in favor of this measure. Durkin will probably also speak to ask for council’s approval on this item when it comes to a vote next week. Although budget times are tight, safety is one of the three main tasks of local government (health, safety, welfare) so this should pass when voted on next week.
The green sheets can be found here, and include neighborhood meeting details and comments.
UPDATE:” Traffic Czar” Bill Wrobel checks in.
“It was proposed that there would be speed tables and the bulb outs would be with discretion and usage of the best available Traffic Calming Data and criteria, and the Islands at Fairview and Main street also would have rumble strips and get no higher than 3 or 4 inches up. Likewise the Tables would be 4 to 6 inches high and were totally supported by the Residents at that hearing. The Tables would large enough so that the car would be up on them with all four wheels.”