StreetFilm: Traffic Calming Done Right in Melbourne

Clarence Eckerson files this report (and StreetFilm) from Melbourne, Australia:

This city really is wonderful. Art, happiness, liveliness, and good walking
everywhere (between daily runs and walking I am averaging about 10 miles
per day). The incredible thing is the TRAFFIC CALMING. Unless you are on a
real highway no matter where you go there is inventive and unique traffic
calming. If you are on a main road, ANYWHERE you turn off you hit textured
crosswalks, gateways, speed bumps, just really the way it should be. Check
out the video, featuring Kevin Luten from UrbanTrans, to get an idea.

We put on a Streetfilms night (hastily arranged) and we got about 35 people
from the govt. and groups to show up. I got emails from people apologizing
that they couldn’t come! And one guy was the biggest fan saying his
favorites are Sasquatch and our clay animations. Due to popular demand, I
am giving another showing on Tuesday with a smaller group.

Today in 100+ degree heat I am going for a bike ride with a whole gaggle of bike
people and advocates. Should be fun if I don’t die! 

  • How do ambulance drivers and other emergency vehicle drivers cope with this kind of traffic calming? I’ve heard complaints from ambulance staff about some forms (speed bumps in particular) and wondered how Melbourne has that worked out.

  • Eric

    Probably since their streets are a lot calmer, they have a lot less need for ambulances.

  • epc

    I was there in August ’07 and only recall the speed bumps (they’re more like raised rumble strips) in the central CBD, not in the outlying areas like St. Kilda.

    The tram system there is great. I don’t know if it’s intended or not, but cyclists use the dedicated tram lanes as bike lanes.

  • JJay

    this only works in 3rd tier cities where populations are STILL relatively low…try this in jones beach in NY and you will see MAYHEM on the streets

  • Adrian

    Nothing really new there, they have had that sort of stuff in European cities for years. The British invented the “sleeping policeman “, raised platforms, narrowed streets and pedestrian safety areas.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I want Clarence’s job!

    And JJay. Go to London and Berlin and you’ll see much of the same.

    It doesn’t “work” here because people refuse to even allow the government to try (see the Prince St entries).

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Oh yeah! But much of these traffic calming devices seem to work rather well out in the western US for some reason.

  • Adrian,

    Maybe not new but there are an awful lot of tc devices in that small stretch, some I didn’t even get to show. And come on I mean bollards smack dab in the middle of the street. 3 or 4 of them in a row? Now that you don’t see everyday.

  • Sam

    “Probably since their streets are a lot calmer, they have a lot less need for ambulances.”

    Ya it’s a real funny joke until someone in your family dies waiting for help because a bunch of liberal treehugging do-gooders think that roads are for walking and rollerblading instead of driving.

  • Pete

    Since the streets carry less traffic there is less congestion generally to slow the ambulance down. Anyway this sort of treatment is usually only in problem areas and high pedestrian use areas. Elsewhere the emergency vehicles can get through, and a lot of special access strategies are used for them. Ambulances and fire trucks on lights and sirens will go the wrong way around roundabouts to get through faster.


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