Traffic calming measures help to address vehicle speeding to make streets safer for all road users and are an important part of encouraging safe and healthy communities. If you have community traffic concerns that you would like the City to investigate, please review the following:
Requests for speeding enforcement or reports of unsafe drivers should be directed to the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 extension 7300 or file a report online at ottawapolice.ca.
Community traffic concerns should be directed to the City by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 3-1-1. Be specific in highlighting your traffic issues with the operator and they will forward your request to the appropriate City staff for review.
Residents' initial contact with the City's 3-1-1 system will generate a service request number which you can use to track your concern. The City will evaluate reported traffic concerns considering context, history of concerns, land use and transportation access, road user and traffic characteristics (e.g. volumes and speeds) and may conduct site visits and collect data to confirm conditions.
In reviewing traffic concerns, City staff consider a range of potential solutions described below:
Operational/Safety: A significant safety issue may require an immediate response, such as a missing stop sign or malfunctioning traffic signals. These issues are immediately referred to the appropriate City department for action.
Referral: For some issues, traffic management measures may not be appropriate or effective, for example land use issues, commercial operations, road maintenance, transit service and utilities. These issues will be referred to the appropriate department.
Local road request to change the posted speed limit: The City offers residents the ability to request, by means of a petition, a reduction in the posted speed limit to 40 km/h (or 30 km/h if applicable) on streets designated as local residential in the Transportation Master Plan. To qualify, there must be a consensus among a minimum of 66 per cent of residents on the entire street, confirmed via a petition process.
Communication and Enforcement Measures: These options focus on informing and educating motorists to drive appropriately. This can include use of signage, other educational campaign exercises, and targeted enforcement.
Minor Adjustment Measures: These options focus on cost effective solutions that can be implemented with limited intrusion on the existing form and function of streets. Solutions may include, but are not limited to, flex post signs, pavement markings and speed display boards. These types of ‘seasonal/temporary’ measures are typically implemented through the City’s Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program, which provides a funding allotment for each Ward. Feasible locations are selected in consultation with the Ward Councillor.
Engineering Measures: These options focus on permanent, engineered, physical changes to streets that encourage appropriate motorist behaviour and speeds. These measures can take years to implement whether as part of road reconstruction projects or stand-alone retrofit projects through the Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Program. More information about the types of Engineering Measures suitable for City streets can be found here.
Engineering Solutions for Traffic Calming Measures
Traffic calming is the combination of measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behaviour and improve conditions for non-motorized street users. Traffic calming may help to reduce speeds, the amount of non-local traffic that passes through a neighbourhood, collision severity and frequency, and the negative effects of motorized vehicles on the environment.
Permanent engineered traffic calming measures can potentially be implemented on City streets in a number of ways:
- Localized retrofits through the City’s NTC Program
- Through road renewal projects or
- As part of new development
There are a variety of permanent traffic calming measures that can be considered on City streets. The feasibility and context of each measure must be evaluated on an individual basis because each measure has unique benefits and impacts that need to be considered. Staff endeavour to develop a comprehensive traffic calming plan that meets the following criteria:
- Effectively addresses the identified traffic concern
- Minimizes unintentional and potentially undesirable secondary impacts
- Affordable with respect to capital, operating and maintenance costs
The City will seek to resolve traffic concerns by considering the possible implementation of the following types of permanent engineered traffic calming measures:
- Vertical Deflections
- Horizontal Deflections
- Traffic Management Measures
- Surface Treatments
- Urban Design
For more information on all the types of traffic calming measures described above, please refer to the Traffic Calming Toolbox in Part 2 of the City’s Traffic Calming Design Guidelines.
Please note that regulatory measures such as stop signs and signals conform to warrants that establish criteria that define thresholds for the use of traffic control. Stop signs are a form of traffic control used to assign the right-of-way at intersections; they are not intended to be used as speed control devices. Unwarranted stops signs typically result in compliance problems and in some cases can result in higher speeds. Unwarranted signals can result in increased emissions, delay and collisions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is traffic calming?
- The combination of measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behaviour and improve conditions for non-motorized street users.
What are the benefits of traffic calming?
- Traffic calming may help to reduce vehicle speeds, the amount of non-local traffic that passes through a neighbourhood, collision severity and frequency, and the negative effects of motorized vehicles on the environment. Traffic calming measures can enhance safety for all road users.
What types of traffic calming measures are available?
1. Communication and Enforcement Solutions such as
- Information Signage (e.g. “Slow Down For Us” signs)
- Educational Campaigns
- Speed Display Devices
2. Minor Adjustment Measures such as
- Pavement Markings (e.g. on-road messaging, transverse bars, etc.)
- Vertical Centreline Treatments (e.g. flex stakes)
- On-Street Parking
3. Engineering Solutions such as
- Vertical Deflections (e.g. raised crossings, speed humps, etc.)
- Horizontal Deflections (e.g. chicanes, medians, bulb-outs, mini-roundabouts, etc.)
- Traffic Management (right-in / right-out island, vehicle diverter, etc.)
- Surface Treatments (e.g. textured crossings, textured surfaces, etc.)
- Urban Design (e.g. gateways, streetscaping)
Can’t you just install an all-way stop sign?
- Stop signs are a form of traffic control used to assign the right-of-way at intersections; they are not intended to be used as speed control devices. Studies have shown that they are ineffective for traffic calming purposes. It has been found that:
- Stop compliance is poor at unwarranted multi-way stop signs.
- The stop sign creates a false sense of safety for pedestrians because they expect the cars to stop.
- Unwarranted multi-way stop signs actually may increase speeds some distance from intersections.
Can we slow down traffic by lowering the speed limit?
- The majority of motorists drive at a speed they consider reasonable, and safe for road, traffic, and environmental conditions. Posted speed limits which are set higher or lower than dictated by roadway and traffic conditions are ignored by the majority of motorists.
- The change in posted speed limit does not produce a similar change in operating speed. Typically, changes are not sufficiently large to be of practical significance. Any changes in speed limits should be accompanied by appropriate enforcement, infrastructure and information measures. Unrealistic speed limits may increase the potential for crashes.
How can we get more police officers enforcing our street?
- To request enforcement of speeding or to report unsafe drivers, please call the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 extension 7300 or by submitting a traffic complaint online.
How can we get a new stop sign or traffic light installed?
- Residents can request a stop sign or traffic light by contacting the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or by emailing email@example.com. Stop signs or traffic lights may be appropriate to clarify who has the right of way at an intersection. They must conform to warrants that establish criteria that define thresholds for the use of traffic control.
How can we get red-light cameras installed?
- Residents can request a red-light camera by contacting the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Locations for red light cameras are typically selected by City Council based on collision rates.
How do I request traffic calming on my street?
- Residents can request a Neighbourhood Traffic Calming (NTC) study on their street by contacting the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or by e-mailing email@example.com. Once a request is received by the City, it is screened using a Council approved qualification process. Qualified requests are then prioritized City-wide by the NTC Program to make sure staff are addressing the most severe issues first.
What can we do in the short-term?
- Residents can request “Slow Down for Us” signs or “Leave the Phone Alone” signs through the Safer Roads Ottawa program at SRO@ottawa.ca.
- Residents can contact their Ward Councillor to request temporary (seasonal) traffic calming. For example, drivers are often unaware of the speed at which they are travelling. Speed display boards installed through the TTCM Program help alert drivers to their speed, while the installation of flex-stakes on residential roads encourage lower speeds.
What is the difference between Speed Bumps, Speed Humps, Speed Tables and Speed Cushions?
- Visual description of each of these measures:
- Speed Bumps are abrupt raised areas of a roadway which cause vertical upward movement of traveling vehicles. Speed Bumps are not used on City streets but are typically found on private roadways and in parking lots.
- Speed Humps are raised areas of a roadway which cause vertical upward movement of travelling vehicles. They are generally longer than Speed Bumps and have less impact.
- Speed Tables are raised areas of a roadway which cause vertical upward movement of travelling vehicles. They are generally longer that Speed Humps and have less impact.
- Speed Cushions are raised areas, similar to speed humps, but not covering the entire width of the road. They are designed to allow large vehicles to “straddle” the cushions while smaller vehicles are vertically deflected.