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Humps, bumps, lovely traffic-calming lumps


By Cheryl McDermott

Traffic calming consists of physical design and other measures put in place on existing roads to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Efforts to reduce speeding in our communities can be implemented in many ways. Though speed zones are set to encourage safe driving, posted limits can be missed or ignored, so “traffic calming” in these areas often incorporates the use of speed bumps or speed humps. The route my fellow commissioners took here in Stowe was to install speed bumps.

As a commissioner, I did not support purchasing speed bumps. The alternative and more sedate solution should have been installing speed humps. Although many think the speed bump and hump have the same benefits, they are not interchangeable solutions.

Speed bumps are a more aggressive “traffic calming” option than speed humps, and are more useful in places where pedestrians and cars share space closely, most commonly used in parking lots and driveways. Speed bumps are rarely used on public roads because they require vehicles to come to a near stop to pass over them, and can do damage to cars moving at regular speeds. They are also a hazard for road maintenance, especially in winter when clearing snow.

Speed humps are intended to slow traffic speeds on low volume, low-speed roads with 10 to 15 mph speed zones. They’re often seen on local streets where traffic needs to flow smoothly but excessive speed will endanger pedestrians. Playground and school zones often use these in traffic management.

For the safety of our residents and visitors, I believe Stowe Township should have chosen the less aggressive of the two, speed humps.

Perhaps a less aggressive approach to decision-making without the “we only need three votes” would ensure that decisions are made intelligently, with supporting facts, open conversations and inclusion of all commissioners.

I am hopeful “traffic calming” in our communities will have speed humps rather than speed bumps and Stowe Township’s elected officials’ decision-making will take a more calming approach as well.

Cheryl McDermott is a Stowe commissioner and the owner of Personality Hair Design Center located at 1301 Island Ave., Stowe.

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