New research indicates that, contrary to the general image, three-quarters of people are in favour of traffic calming as a whole, with some 62 per cent supporting speed cameras (27 per cent opposed ) and 53 per cent backing road humps (37 per cent opposed). Most popular of all were interactive signs, which were favoured by 80 per cent.
In general, says the report, 'vertical features' such as humps are more likely to be controversial, while advisory measures such as signs tend to win support.
Graham Dunhill, chairman of the CSS Transport & Environment Committee, says of the report: 'These results reveal strong support for traffic calming. The majority of people want safer roads for themselves and their families and see traffic calming as essential to achieving it. The other important message is that a wider range of people need to be involved in the consultation process, not just those who shout loudest.'
The report says that effective and well-planned public consultation is crucial in winning acceptance for calming schemes and that it could help to avoid the costly process of having to remove them again. One of its key recommendations is that the Department for Transport should publish advice on good consultation practice.
Communication should, says the report, be two-way in order to ensure that local knowledge contributes to the thinking process at an early stage. And there is criticism for projects that offer local people no feedback once implemented. Only two of 13 case studies looked at by the research team had done so.
Other problems identified that can hinder traffic calming include the fact that professionals leading such schemes may be overworked and under pressure to complete within timescales required by government guidelines. In other cases, there is an absence of adequate skills to carry out effective consultation.
A number of developer-funded traffic calming schemes were also included in the study. Relationships between local authorities and developers may, says the report, result in 'inappropriate schemes', even when considerable funds have been made available. Developers may become frustrated with public sector stakeholders and take the 'line of least resistance' in order to meet timescales.
The report says there is great potential to enhance the impact of traffic calming schemes and improve their acceptance by 'thinking outside the box', which might include funding for education, training and publicity, safer driving schemes or psychological approaches to design. 'Joined up planning' should be exploited by, for example, introducing traffic calming as part of wider regeneration or maintenance initiatives.
The results are summarised in the full report which can be downloaded here.
Public perceptions of traffic calming was commissioned by the County Surveyors' Society with support from TRICS, the Rees Jefferies Road Fund and 13 local authorities. The work was carried out by Social Research Associates (SRA) and Jacobs Babtie.