A new pilot project to calm traffic and create safer streets in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood got underway with a neighborhood event on July 30, at LaCrone Park.
Traffic calming “chicanes” will be installed on residential streets throughout the Northside Neighborhood. Chicanes are physical barriers in the roadway that require drivers to slow down to navigate around them. Studies have shown that chicanes lower traffic speeds and reduce traffic crashes by about 29%.
The chicanes that will be installed will be semi-permanent, consisting of a marked off area extending from the curb with flexible posts installed along the boundary. This makes them cost-effective, more easily installed, and faster to implement than a concrete chicane or roadway redesign. It also makes it possible to adjust their location if necessary. Unlike other traffic calming designs like speed bumps, chicanes are easy for bikes and emergency vehicles to navigate.
Installation of the chicanes is expected to be completed by the end of summer. They will be installed at locations on Staples Avenue, Woodward Avenue, Cobb Avenue, William Street, Elizabeth Street, Mabel Street, Florence Street, Ada Street, Burdick Street, Edwards Street, Bosker Avenue, Prouty Street, and a location near the intersection of Cadillac & Hawley Street. Because they extend from the curb, some on-street parking spaces will be lost to accommodate the chicanes.
Another aspect of this pilot project is to help create a process by which traffic calming projects can be started in other neighborhoods. Many residents have expressed a desire for traffic calming during neighborhood planning or at public meetings. Feedback from this project will help determine how to best plan and coordinate future projects with residents, how to identify the underlying issues that contribute to unsafe traffic, and what the best ways are to address them. Once developed, staff plan to use this process implement more traffic calming projects each year starting in 2021.
The Northside pilot project will also evaluate the effectiveness of the chicanes specifically, by comparing before-and-after traffic data and gathering feedback from neighborhood residents. This will help determine if chicanes are appropriate for traffic calming in other parts of the City.
In January 2019, the Kalamazoo City Commission adopted a Complete Streets Policy to realize safe, comfortable, and convenient streets for all users and all modes of transportation. Where, appropriate traffic calming projects can help to achieve these goals and create a safer and more connected city for everyone in the community.
More information about this project is available at www.imaginekalamazoo.com/projects/northsidetraffic.