The Benefits of Traffic Calming

A few weeks ago, LADOT Bikeways staff grabbed our camera and tripod and took a trip down to Long Beach to get a first hand look at the Vista St. Bicycle Boulevard. As Los Angeles gets ready to implement it’s own version of a Bicycle Boulevard (called a Bicycle Friendly Street – BFS), we wanted to help familiarize everyone with a few of the different treatments. We particularly wanted to stress the significant quality of life and safety improvements that Vista St. residents have seen following the installation of traffic calming devices – particularly roundabouts and bicycle traffic signals. We hope to use this video (and others like it) at future neighborhood meetings to provide information through a more visually appealing medium. Special thanks go out to Long Beach Bicycle Coordinator Allan Crawford, neighborhood residents Kristine Kelly and Lisa Brisky for sharing their first hand thoughts and experiences with the facility. More on the benefits of BFS facilities below the fold.


Let’s make better neighborhoods

Roundabouts can improve safety, reduce noise, and beautify your neighborhoods. They function as a natural traffic calming device by slightly diverting traffic off of a straight path. This forces cars to slow down when entering the intersection. Roundabouts are also more efficient than your typical four way stop intersection (an intersection with four stop signs). They allow multiple vehicles to yield, and proceed through the intersection without having to come to a complete stop. Slower speeds and yielding (as opposed to complete stops) reduces vehicle braking noise, thus contributing to a calmer, less noisy neighborhood.

Safety and health

Slower cars means less accidents (and even the ones that do occur are less severe). According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA),

Traffic calming has proven to reduce traffic speeds and, consequently, reduce the number of pedestrian deaths.

With Bicycle Friendly Streets, you can leave the car at home and allow your kids to walk or bike to school. This allows kids to get some much needed physical activity, thus decreasing their risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. As we continue to move forward with Bike Plan implementation, be sure to show your support for these intersection treatments. Feel free to tell us what you think of the video, and be sure to provide suggestions for future videos that you’d like to see.

Long beach roundabout

Modern roundabout at Vista St. and Park Ave. in Long Beach, CA

0 replies
  1. Dennis Hindman
    Dennis Hindman says:

    You should have spent some time talking to residents about the so-called bike signal. It could then be used to show residents in Los Angeles, such as the Hancock Park area, how this works and what the residents of the area see happening as the result of it. Residents would get a better feel and understanding of how this would work when they can see examples of it from other areas. Just showing drawings does not suffice for convincing people of how this would work.

    If LADOT bikeways does not want to drag in video equipment to meetings to show residents the example in Long Beach, then I would be happy to oblige by bringing in a big screen IMac to show it to them. We can work together on this, it’s not a insurmountable task.

    Could someone explain why a roundabout cannot be used instead of a light signal at the two intersections along 4th st that are in dispute?

    • JoJo Pewsawang
      JoJo Pewsawang says:

      Hi Dennis,

      The plan is to show the video at future Neighborhood meetings. According to the Bike Plan’s Technical Design Handbook, mini-roundabouts can only be used on local or collector streets when ADT is less than 2,000. I’ll ask around why 4th/Highland/Rossmore isn’t suitable for a roundabout.

      • Dennis Hindman
        Dennis Hindman says:

        Thank you for the answer. I was focused on the video as that was my suggestion at the last BPIT meeting for neighborhood meetings and so I did not read your entire article. I still don’t see how this particular video confronts the continuous issue of installing traffic signals for home owners such as in the Hancock Park area. In fact this video fast forwards through the light signal part of Vista St. I gather from your article that each treatment will have a separate video if there are examples of them to be found.

        I would also suggest that Streetsfilms videos could possibly be used at neighborhood meetings. They have examples of wayfinding, traffic calming, chicanes, contraflow, green lanes, etc.

        Streetfilms latest video is entitled ‘Groningen’s green phase for cyclists. This features Hillie Talens from the Netherlands, who participated in the ThinkBike workshop in Los Angeles. It also shows the green phase for cyclists and pedestrians at USC.

    • JoJo Pewsawang
      JoJo Pewsawang says:

      Hi Bruce,

      The neighborhoods will be responsible for maintaining the landscaping within the roundabout. According to the Technical Design Handbook, roundabouts can cost about $20,000 per intersection, and require approval of the neighborhood for installation.

  2. bikerdude
    bikerdude says:

    Good piece, I liked the video and the music selection.
    Having more bicycle friendly streets for all people (children, parents, and commuters) is an important step for the Los Angeles community. A bicycle friendly street creates an attractive, convenient, and comfortable bicycling environment that is welcoming to all ages and skill levels. In essence, bicycle friendly streets are low-volume and low speed that have been optimized for bicycle, car and walking travel through treatments such as traffic calming and reduction, signage, pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments. I for one don’t see any draw backs to this treatment.
    The new LA bike plan is a giant step forward and I’ve seen a lot of bicycle facilities getting put on the ground in LA.

    But how do you educate the general public about these new street treatments and the positive changes it will have on the local streets in Los Angeles?
    The local communities, mayor, council offices, advocates, schools and parents need to support these types of facilities in Los Angeles.

    My wife and I just had a baby 8 months ago….I want to make a difference for our child(ren) in Los Angeles by supporting neighborhood bicycle friendly streets. Come on bicyclists make the time to educate the car culture.

  3. Mark Elliot
    Mark Elliot says:

    Here in Beverly Hills we have a giant 6-point intersection that’s a hazard for cyclists because our folks are in such a hurry to get anywhere that they can hardly wait their turn. Social Darwinism on wheels. Why not a rotary there?

    Our Deputy transport chief remarked, “We once tested a rotary there, but people didn’t know how to use it, and the accident rate actually increased.”

    Now, these folks have seen the roundabout. They’ve traveled to Europe. So either I live in a town with a bunch of numbnuts, or Transportation Div’s experiment wasn’t well-conducted.

    Either way, par for the course, the idea seems permanently off the table because it’s believed to once not have worked. See our 6-point in action any afternoon at Beverly & Canon & Lomitas.


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