The “Speed Lump.” Not a Typo. It’s Inexpensive Traffic Calming.

Last week while vacationing in the Bay Area, I took a bike ride around the East Bay waterfront and discovered the land of Alameda, CA, where apparently I thought someone had humorously vandalized this sign when I rode up to it. But as I soon found out speed lumps are fact, not fiction.

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A cousin to the traditional speed hump, speed lumps are used in locations where communities would like to have the effects of a speed hump without slowing the speed of emergency vehicles. The lumps are commonly made out of prefabricated rubber shapes and bolted into place – leaving gaps for the tires of wide vehicles by evenly spacing them three or four across a street.

Though I couldn’t find much on the Internet about speed lumps, I learned from Noah Budnick at Transportation Alternatives that in the United Kingdom, these are called "speed cushions" (or "speed pillows!") Not only does the speed lump not impede the progress of EMS vehicles, buses, and fire trucks, but it also allows cyclists to sail smoothly thru the gaps in the pre-fab structures.

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In many areas of New York City where there is community opposition to speed humps, lumps — or "pillows" — could be a great solution. As I watched the vehicles slowing on this residential street, I thought how nice it’d be to have stacks of these cheap, easily-installed traffic-calmers on hand at the Department of Transportation. Perhaps traffic-calming doesn’t have to be so expensive and technically difficult to build.

Note: These photos were taken along Bayview Drive in Alameda, CA.

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