- residents in different parts of the city of detroit have been asking for more traffic-calming methods for years, and the city has finally responded.
- installing 4500 speed humps (different from speed bumps) will cost around $11.5 million and is a dramatic increase from the 1200 installed in 2020 or the 543 the city added in 2019.
- cities across the united states have considered speed humps as a way to stop drag racing and even to help reduce gun-related crimes.
for a small amount of concrete, speed bumps sure can be complicated. they're good at slowing vehicles down, but they're also good at attracting lawsuits if someone damages their vehicle when driving over one. and, while speed bumps may calm traffic in one neighborhood, they can also encourage drivers to just use nearby streets that don't have speed bumps, increasing traffic there.
but there's little question that speed bumps work at slowing traffic down. as the department of transportation wrote in a federal highway administration study, "although people often gripe about the inconvenience of having to slow down for these devices, they don't have much choice. their effectiveness at slowing traffic cannot be disputed."
so, with all of this in mind, we can now turn to the city of detroit, which has finally responded to a public push to put speed bumps in one of the city's wealthier neighborhoods by announcing this week that it will install 4500 speed humps across the city next year, roughly three times the 1200 that were installed in 2020.
speed humps are technically a different thing than speed bumps, as they are usually around 12 feet long compared to the one-foot to three-foot width of a speed bump, but the terms are used interchangeably in the media at times. detroit first started experimenting with them in 2018, installing 32 that year and 543 in 2019. detroit says the massive influx of speed humps that are on their way will cost $11.5 million. installation will start in the spring and will be limited to streets with a 25-mph speed limit. the city says installations will be prioritized based on traffic, the number of children living on the street, and how many reports of excessive speeding the city has received for the street. citizens can now fill out an online form to request them in their neighborhood.
one impetus for the announcement was the batch of citizen-installed speed humps in the green acres woodward residential neighborhood last month, which the city quickly removed (and eventually replaced). the struggle to get traffic-calming bumps installed in the city goes further back, though. in 2018, for example, residents in detroit's grandmont #1 neighborhood asked for speed bumps to be installed, but the city of detroit planning and development department's deputy director told wdet at the time that speed bumps were not being considered for the city because a clear process for where and when they should be installed hadn't been established.
it's not just detroit where residents want drivers to slow the heck down in residential neighborhoods. in santa ana, california, after separate accidents involving street racing killed two pedestrians in july, the city announced a number of initiatives to crack down on the speeders, including criminalizing not only the driving of these vehicles but watching as well, and, yes, installing speed bumps. in new haven, connecticut, this summer, police installed speed bumps to prevent drag racing after dozens of cars were involved in the dangerous activity in august. some cities, like emmett, idaho, have decided against installing speed humps because they may make snow removal more difficult, and they're looking at other ways to slow people down, including putting up more stop signs.
in philadelphia, though, the speed bump discussion takes on a more serious tone. citizens on a block of north simpson street installed their own speed-limit reminders, but those didn't stop people from speeding on their street. they asked the city to install speed bumps, but it wasn't until a seven-year-old was shot and killed on the street that the city said it would take a look. residents suggested that, if criminals can't just speed away, their streets might be safer.
"when you have something like a speed bump, and people know they can't come down the block speeding and doing whatever, they won't visit the block." resident jamar young told whyy. oh, and one other thing. in philly, city officials call the little mounds of concrete "speed cushions," just to add one more layer to the complexity of these small mounds of concrete.