Contrary to popular belief, speed humps don’t just appear on neighborhood streets and there is no magical speed hump stork that delivers them in the middle of the night. So when, why, and how do speed humps get installed?
Speed humps are one of the most requested traffic calming measures that the City of Bellevue receives to slow down traffic on a neighborhood street. First installed in 1985, Bellevue currently has approximately 125 of them throughout the City. We are not talking about your typical parking lot speed bump here, but ones designed to be more gradual and are 3 inches high.
As popular as they may be, surprising or not, people often have a rocky relationship with them. Residents often want them on their street, but not in front of their home. In fact, even though speed humps can be every effective at reducing speeds (5-10 mph) in locations where there is a significant speeding problem, they can also be a hotly contested neighborhood issue. No matter what side you are on, if they are so contested, then how, why and when do speed humps – and other traffic safety devices – actually get built?
Let’s say you are concerned about vehicle speeds on your street. You first contact the City by completing a Request for Action citing the specifics of your concerns. Given the effectiveness of speed humps in reducing vehicle speeds, many residents specifically ask that these devices be built along their street. We take the request into consideration as we determine 1) if the street conditions are appropriate for speed humps (it should be noted that speed humps are not ideal near curves or on steep grades, among other considerations) and 2) whether the neighborhood supports the installation.
The placement of speed humps can also impact emergency response times. Bellevue does not install speed humps on main emergency response routes and the Fire Department is involved whenever a street is being considered for street humps. As an alternative, sometimes other tools–such as split speed cushions or speed cushions–can be used to similar effect while minimizing the impact to emergency response times.
If not speed humps – then what?
Public agencies have varied approaches when implementing speed humps and other physical measures. Take Seattle. You will notice few speed humps but an abundance of traffic circles in some neighborhoods. What works in Seattle may not work in Bellevue. For that matter, what works in the Woodridge neighborhood of Bellevue may not work in Vuecrest. Take a look at our guidebook to view the suite of tools available that may help to improve traffic safety on your street.
The decision to alter the roadway is ultimately a product of roadway conditions and what the neighborhood desires. Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services staff engages with neighborhood residents to create a plan that strives to address all concerns. The goal for any of these measures is to have safe speeds in our neighborhoods to maintain livability for all users of the roadway.