My favorite little snowy curb extension

March 18, 2013



Ah, snow

On my travels the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing admiring Old Man Winter’s traffic calming efforts. It isn’t evenly distributed through town, and the main streets don’t really show any treatment, however on Traverse City’s smaller streets the healthy snow levels of early 2013 have helped slow traffic–anecdotally anyway. The snowy mounds left over from the snowplows stand in nicely as curb-extensions, neck-downs, bulb outs, medians and help create natural skinny streets. There is likely only one or two more weeks before these all melt and were back to Traverse City’s extra wide and extra fast streets, so get our there, take notice, and enjoy.


The turning radius tightens-up with this 4 foot extension of ice and grit. It also helps to narrow this 36-ft wide (!) side street.

Why narrowing the streets is good? One reason is safety. Studies of crashes have found that streets with narrower lane widths had fewer injuries. On side streets, 9-10-ft lanes are recommended. On some of the bigger streets, 10-11-ft is recommended. Unfortunately, in Traverse City the majority of our streets have 12-ft and greater lane widths, contributing to faster speeds and more aggressive driving. So, before you bad mouth the snow one more time, take a moment to thank it for safer streets.


This 24-ft wide side street, already narrow, shows potential for further narrowing with the snow. 18-ft on these side streets is plenty. Saves money, improves quality of life.


We’ve written about snow as traffic calming a few times…here (with video) and here.


See any examples of snowy traffic calming treatments out there?


Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated. 

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