The Magic Roundabout!

May 2, 2017

This roundabout is known by the local residents as ‘the Magic Roundabout’ ,after a well known children’s TV program in the UK. On first appearance it appears ridiculously complicated but is in fact quite easy to use and has remained essentially unchanged for many years. The link is worth watching if you are running out of ideas as to how to design a multi legged intersection.


Snow – Nature’s Traffic Calming

February 3, 2016

The recent heavy snowfall in the North East USA provided a natural demonstration of traffic calming and specifically how much excess roadway space is part of ‘standard’ road designs.

Here’s a link to an article from Wired magazine. It should be required reading for all traffic and highway engineers and designers.

Peter Partington

January 2016

‘Driving in America Extraordinarily Dangerous’

July 12, 2015

I have taken the title of this post from a recent headline in The Economist.

Here’s the link to The Economist’s article:

On average, traffic deaths per 100,000 people in the USA are well above that of other western countries. However the article makes clear that there is a correlation between population density and the traffic death rate. Sparsely populated states have a far higher death rate than those which are densely populated. The Economist conjectures a number of reasons why this might be so, including higher speeds on average in sparsely populated states, but the article does state that no clear link exists between speed limits and crashes.

It’s time the USA woke up to this problem.The misery caused by traffic crashes is avoidable. I suggest greater emphasis on speeds appropriate to their situation and here traffic calming has a part to play. Municipalities need to step up their game and spend more on traffic calming particularly in smaller population cities and counties. Because these smaller municipalities have constrained budgets, the ‘wide open’ states must play a much bigger role in providing more funds for traffic safety and traffic calming.

Peter Partington

July 2015

Cyclist Safety in Florida

October 27, 2014

Here’s a great article from The Economist that really shows the problem:

Imagine…Florida’s cyclist death rate is higher than that of the United Kingdom which has 3 times the population and far more people using bicycles because of the cost of gas.

It really is time for a fundamental makeover of roads in Florida and not just ‘adding token bicyle lanes’.

Traffic calming principles need to be learned and applied by all Florida’s roadway designers.

Peter Partington

Oct 2014

Cyclists to Soar above in London?

January 9, 2014

As a young engineer in London I well remember a number of proposals to elevate busy roads above ground level. Many of these proposals stopped because they would be out of scale and character with the street grid and subsequently congestion increased at least until petrol taxes and congestion pricing brought demand more in line with supply. Because of the cost of driving and public transit, bicycle usage has greatly increased in London but at the price of danger, death and injury to cyclists. Possibly because of this, there is now a proposal to build a system of elevated bicycle paths throughout London.!rNmHF

I find it ironic that having kept motor traffic at ground level, planners are now forced to grade separate cyclists from the street grid for which the bicycle is ideally suited. In many places in London I’m sure pedestrians would also prefer to be elevated above the adjacent and dangerous traffic! Time will tell if the elevated bicycle paths come to fruition.

Peter Partington
January 2014

2000 Year Old Speed Humps

October 16, 2013

Is traffic calming more than 2000 years old?

Here’s a [stylized] photo of what appears to speed humps across the street in the Roman city of Pompeii in Italy, destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius.

Note the chariot tracks either side of the humps [actually more like modern speed cushions]. It is clear these must have slowed speeding chariot drivers!

The official explanation for these structures is that the Romans ran their waste material into the street and stepping stones were needed to cross the street to avoid the mess. However the Romans were master engineers and there are many signs of underground drainage so who’s to say these stones were not intended to slow chariots!

Peter Partington

Oct 2013Image



Feedback Loop

August 23, 2013

Theory says that drivers are more likely to keep to the speed limit when they are reminded of their true speed. The police often use temporary ‘Speed limit….Your speed is…..’ radar controlled speed limit signs on roads where speeding is prevalent but permanent radar controlled speed limit signs are not very common in the USA unlike some other countries. Some objections center around cost and the addition of more street furniture. Here’s a photo of a simple and neat radar speed limit sign installation that could be more widely used. I believe these could be installed as one of the first traffic calming measures where high speeding levels have been documented.

Peter Partington

August 2013


PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram now!

New Way to Follow Traffic Calming Ideas!

August 2, 2013

New Way to Follow Traffic Calming Ideas!

I have now have an Instagram account under the name of ‘trafficcalming’

I will post photos of interesting traffic calming initiatives as I come across them.

Here’s a link to my first post:

Thank you for following me on Instagram!


Peter Partington

August 2013.

Children Playing on Public Roads

June 13, 2013

Here’s a link to an interesting idea in the UK. Of course if residential roads are well designed or retrofitted with traffic calming, parents might not feel the need to prohibit traffic.


More than One Way to Crack a Nut?

May 4, 2013

On a recent trip I had the opportunity to see different approaches to similar traffic calming needs – slowing traffic on a straight road at an intersection. In the first case the road was a wide residential road and a chicane was selected. Installing the chicane across an intersecting street added an interesting element. Here’s a couple of photos:



The installation looks inexpensive but is far from aesthetic. It is a might cause confusion particularly when entering from the side street. One wonders whether residents are subjected to tire squealing as drivers attempt to negotiate the chicane at the highest speeds possible.

A more elegant and aesthetic, but much higher cost solution, is the raised intersection shown in the following photos. This well thought out traffic calming solution enhances the commercial area in which it is located and is a streetscape feature in its own right with ‘street pave’ patterns being added to the road surface.




Both these examples are in Australia [hence drivers are on the wrong side of the road!]

What do others think of these traffic calming designs?

Peter Partington
May 2013