Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System

 

A raised crosswalk in Salt Lake City, Utah. http://www.pedbikeimages.org/ - Dan Burden


http://www.pedbikeimages.org/ - Austin Brown A speed table in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
http://www.pedbikeimages.org/ - Austin Brown

 

Photo by Dan Burden A speed cushion is placed longitudinally in the travel lane. Vehicles with wider axles straddle the cushion.
Photo by Dan Burden

 

 

Speed Tables/Humps/Cushions

Speed humps are vertical traffic control measures. They are paved (usually asphalt) and approximately three to four inches high at their center, and extend the full width of the street with height tapering near the drain gutter to allow unimpeded bicycle travel. Speed humps should not be confused with the speed bump that is often found in mall parking lots. There are several designs for speed humps. A speed table is a term used to describe a very long and broad speed hump, or a flat-topped speed hump, where sometimes a pedestrian crossing is provided in the flat portion of the speed table.

The traditional 12 ft hump has a design speed of 15 to 20 mi/h, 14 ft hump a few miles per hour higher, and a 22 ft table has a design speed of 25 to 30 mi/h. The longer humps are much gentler for larger vehicles. The speed table can either be parabolic, making it more like a speed hump, or trapezoidal. Speed tables can be used in combination with curb extensions where parking exists. Speed humps can also be designed with two, one-foot slots to allow for vehicles with wide wheelbases such as buses and emergency vehicles to pass through them without having to go over the measure. These are typically called speed cushions.

In general, speed humps are a device of last resort. Other traffic calming solutions should be considered first. However, they may be the best solution in some situations, especially on long, straight residential streets where there are few intersections and no other visual cues to slow motorists.

Raised intersections, essentially a speed table for an entire intersection, may improve intersection safety by forcing vehicles approaching the intersection to slow down. This measure could be part of a street-wide traffic calming effort. Construction involves providing ramps on each vehicle approach, which elevates the entire intersection to the level of the sidewalk. Gradual approaches should reduce the impact on bicyclists.

Purpose

Vertical measures tend to have the most predictable speed reduction impacts and are best used on local streets. Speed tables can also enhance the pedestrian environment at pedestrian crossings.

Considerations

  • Raised treatments are not typically suitable for use on arterial streets.
  • Do not use if on a sharp curve or if the street is on a steep grade.
  • The effect on speed reduction is inversely related to the comfort of the device. Higher and shorter devices have the greatest slowing effect, but are the most uncomfortable to traverse.
  • Markings and signs should promote nighttime visibility of raised devices for bicyclists and motorists.
  • If the street is a bus route or primary emergency route, the design must be coordinated with operators. Speed cushions show promise here. Usually, some devices are acceptable if used prudentlyone device may be appropriate and may serve the primary need (e.g., if there is a particular location along a street that is most in need of traffic slowing).
  • The aesthetics of speed humps and speed tables can be improved through the use of color and special paving materials. Designs that complement neighborhood aesthetics will be more readily accepted by the public.
  • Noise may increase, particularly if trucks use the route regularly, but some noise assessments have found little impact, and noise may be reduced overall because of cars traveling at lower speeds.
  • Raised treatments such as speed tables may contribute to drainage problems on some streets.
  • Speed humps, tables, and cushions should be properly designed and installed to reduce the chance of back problems or other physical discomfort experienced by vehicle occupants.

Estimated Cost

Costs can vary depending on the drainage needs of each site, the width of the road, and the specific design used.

Infrastructure
Description
Median
Average
Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Speed Bump/Hump /Cushion/Table
Speed Hump
$2,130
$2,640
$690
$6,860
Each
14(14)
Speed Bump/Hump /Cushion/Table
Speed Bump
$1,670
$1,550
$540
$2,300
Each
4(4)
Speed Bump/Hump /Cushion/Table
Speed Table
$2,090
$2,400
$2,000
$4,180
Each
5(5)
Raised Crossing
Raised Crosswalk
$7,110
$8,170
$1,290
$30,800
Each
14(14)
Raised Crossing
Raised Intersection
$59,160
$50,540
$12,500
$114,150
Each
5(5)

The cost for each speed hump is approximately $1,500, including markings. Speed tables are $2,000 to $15,000, depending on drainage conditions and materials used. Speed cushions also cost approximately $2,000 each.

Safety Effects

A summary of a study that looked at the safety effects of vertical measures can be found here.

References

To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Eugene, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Vancouver, WA