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Traffic Calming

Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program

Engineering Solutions for Traffic Calming Measures

Traffic calming is the combination of measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior 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 endeavor 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:

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 cmpliance 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 stp 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?

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 311@ottawa.ca. 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 311@ottawa.ca. 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 311@ottawa.ca. 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.