INTRODUCTION

Given the costs of vehicle crashes and the traffic safety concerns of the mayors, the Conference of Mayors has been conducting the "Financial Gain for Cities through Prevention of Vehicle Crashes" program since the fall of 1997. Supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, this initiative has included the January 1998 traffic safety survey of mayors; an issue of Traffic Safety Information Exchange; and this issue of Traffic Safety Best Practices - the final product.

The traffic safety survey was key in the development of both publications. The Information Exchange carried articles that further explored the priority issues identified by the survey mayors. In the case of Best Practices, all of the mayors of the 225 cities responding to the survey as well as the USCM leadership were invited to contribute descriptions of their local traffic safety best practices.

The twenty-one presentations on ways to improve traffic safety are diverse, ranging from encouraging transit ridership in Tamarac, Florida to conducting a communications program on traffic congestion in Eden Prairie, Minnesota to reinventing traffic engineering services in Long Beach, California. However, some trends among the submissions are apparent. These are:

  • mayors are taking the lead on traffic safety because it relates to the overall quality of life in their communities;
  • enforcement takes a positive tack, i.e., reward rather than punishment, whenever possible and appropriate;
  • special enforcement initiatives are widely publicized so that the public will not feel that they are being entrapped;
  • traffic calming has become popular because the engineering improvements and street redesign not only slow traffic but also add to neighborhood aesthetics; and
  • community support and input is considered necessary if the three "E"s of traffic safety - enforcement, education, and engineering - are to be effective.

In short, these best practices demonstrate that traffic safety relates to some of the key elements that make for urban civility, such as:

  • physical safety in public places;
  • mobility;
  • aesthetic street design; and
  • consideration for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

For this reason, traffic safety can be expected to gain in importance when cities are undergoing population expansions or contractions. In the case of growth, the sheer volume of cars in expanding urban areas demands the order that traffic safety measures bring to congested roadways. Cities with declining populations need traffic safety initiatives to make their streets efficient, safe, easy to use, and attractive so as to help revitalize their neighborhoods.

Special Report from Salt Lake City

Given the interest in traffic calming, Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini, President of the Conference of Mayors, submitted a comprehensive report on the issue that is included in the Appendix. Produced by the Transportation Division of Salt Lake City’s Community and Economic Development Department, the document describes traffic calming measures with diagrams that include the costs as well as the pros and cons of each approach. There is also an extensive chart of traffic calming tools and uses that provides more detail regarding "when and how." The publication, which has been distributed throughout the Salt Lake City community, concludes with a form that allows a neighborhood to request a traffic study at a specific location.

Other cities may use parts or all of this report, but credit should be given to:

Salt Lake City
Community and Economic Development Department
Transportation Division
September 1998

For further information about this traffic calming report, contact Tim Harpst, Salt Lake City Transportation Director, at telephone: 801/535-6630; FAX: 801/535-6019.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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