Home > Design the Details, Editorial, Engineering Design > TC’s TC Program: Citizen Initiated Traffic Calming (Not The DIY Version)

TC’s TC Program: Citizen Initiated Traffic Calming (Not The DIY Version)

Images via Project for Public Spaces’ Traffic Calming 101.

TC’s Traffic Calming Progress

At the city commission study session tonight they will be discussing the staff generated traffic calming program. It doesn’t state it clearly, but this is the policy for citizen initiated traffic calming.  It’s my hope, if not my understanding, that traffic calming will be considered on any new construction or re-construction project.


When this draft was rolled-out during the summer of 2010 I was very critical. At the time, it really was a plan to do nothing and I was in a cranky mood. Since then, it seems to have slimmed down and the language appears to be more assuring. (I’m also not as cranky.) Unfortunately, I’m crunched for time today and can’t write a full review. However, the three concerns that jump out at me are:

  • The focus on neighborhoods and 65% neighborhood agreement. I’m not sure how neighborhood’s are defined. Is it based solely on associations (not everyone has one)? Or, is it more related to your immediate neighbors? And, what about those of us who see the entire city as our neighborhood? The emphasis creates potential for very myopic projects.
  • One of the guiding principles is: “Through traffic will be encouraged to use higher classification streets.” I’m not opposed to this, I just question it as a stated guiding principle. By definition, it means that the City will be encouraging more volumes of traffic on already busy streets that also run through neighborhoods, hence our problem on Division St. We have a very underutilized grid network and I actually view a robust traffic calming program as an acceptable way to better use it.
  • The process needs to be more clear. The 10-step process for citizen initiated projects from Ann Arbor is a great example that is really pro-active in encouraging citizen participation. And, if at first the effort doesn’t succeed (they call for 60% agreement), citizens are encouraged to simply go back to step 8, not back to the beginning.

I drafted some comments last year that I shared with the planning department, that I include below. I didn’t attempt to re-write the entire program, but simply provide some example language that would be more promising to see in the Traverse City program. I encourage you and the City to plagiarise if something below is appealing.

I’ve also included both the Ann Arbor Guidebook and the draft to Traverse City’s Traffic Calming Program. If you want a primer on what traffic calming is, Project for Public Spaces has an excellent description with plenty of examples.


Traffic Calming Language for Consideration


City staff will annually prioritize traffic calming strategies within the City that have been approved within their area of impact. These programs will be included in projects within the capital improvement budget, as approved by the planning commission and the City Commission. These are in addition to citizen initiated traffic calming initiatives.


A DIY option?

Traffic calming is more than just slowing down vehicles. It is 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 use and aid in making the entire city a place where people are encouraged to be active and interact with one another in public spaces.

The negative impacts of increased motorized traffic are an issue of concern to citizens in Traverse City. This policy addresses a procedure through which citizens can engage traffic calming measures outside of the normal scope of operation directed by the planning department, planning commission, and other relevant staff as defined in the master plan.

Our streets are not just for cars. They are also used for other activities such as walking, running, and wheeled devices. Traffic calming measures encourage automobile drivers to operate with consideration for the safety of other individuals using the roadway and respect for the neighborhoods they are driving through. Traffic calming measures can reduce excessive speed, noise, traffic volumes, and many other impacts, which in turn improve the quality of the neighborhood. Many communities have observed secondary benefits from safe attractive streets, including community interaction through social activities, reduced congestion and promoting safety through increased usage of a diverse set of transportation modes (e.g. walking, bicycling, and public transportation).


Traffic calming consideration can be initiated in two ways:

  • City staff may initiate a traffic-calming project to meet a specific goal with respect to the over-all transportation network.
  • Citizens may initiate the request for a traffic-calming project, following the 10 step process below. What follows is a 10-Step Process for a citizen initiated traffic management project. (Please see and adapt something similar to Ann Arbor’s 10-step process)

Ann Arbor’s Traffic Calming Guidebook

Traverse City’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program

(Begins on page 13)

Have any thoughts on Traffic Calming?


Your Comments Matter

Comments: we welcome your comments, please don’t be shy. The more questions, perspectives and general participation we have here the better. What’s on your mind?

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