The new policy establishes a process to request, approve, and install traffic calming devices, such as speed humps or signage, intended to reduce speeds on roads where residents are concerned about traffic safety.
First introduced at the Dec. 6 Town Council meeting by Town Administrator Steven Contente and Lt. Roman Wozny of the Bristol Police Department, Bristol’s “Traffic Calming” plan was continued for further review and clarification of a couple of minor points. This issue was again on the agenda at the Jan. 17 Council Meeting, and this time, it passed.
The new policy establishes a process to request, approve, and install traffic calming devices intended to reduce speeds on roads where residents are concerned about traffic safety. Wozny researched traffic policies and best practices in a variety of communities in an effort to come up with a plan that will slow drivers’ speeds without the expense and manpower of writing tickets.
“This is a much cleaner policy,” said Council Chairman Nathan Calouro of the revised draft. “I thought the first draft was excellent; this is even better.”
Chief Kevin Lynch spoke to the tools available to the Police Department, short of ticketing, to control speeds. The digital signs that report your speed, often seen on 114 south just before downtown, on Bayview Avenue, Annawamscutt Road, and in other high traffic areas, are one.
“I think it's a good tool to keep people in check,” said Lynch. “I can tell you, just from my own driving, coming out of the police station and going down Bayview Avenue, with the weight and size of the vehicle you immediately realize that you have to apply the brakes in order to travel the speed limit.”
“I’ve seen a cultural change on on Bayview,” he continued. “The longevity of that has yet to be seen. It's new, it's the new bright toy that's out there, and we just hope that people understand that it's a problematic road.”
If the digital sign is not enough to get drivers to check their speeds, the Traffic Calming process is the next step. The first consideration for residents concerned about speeds on their roads is to ask if their road is eligible for installed traffic calming measures (aka speed humps).
Criteria include: it must be a town-maintained roadway; no more than one traffic lane in each direction; a posted speed limit 25 mph or less; not on a RIPTA bus route; and no emergency response services located on nor used as a route for emergency services (unless approved by those services).
Further, a traffic study showing 85th percentile speeds 5 mph or greater over the posted speed, and neighborhood support for the calming measures with 60% approval by residents, will be required.
The plan includes a flow chart showing the steps that need to be taken to obtain speed bumps in your neighborhood. First, residents are required to complete a Traffic Calming request form. Town staff will ensure forms are complete and offer a petition to be circulated in the neighborhood. In order for the request to move forward, 60% of residents in the affected area need to be on board.
Next, the Town will conduct a comprehensive traffic study to confirm that the threshold of 85th percentile — 85 of 100 drivers — are driving at speeds at least 5 miles over the limit. At that point, the Council will solicit recommendations from the administration, Police Department, and Department of Public Works. Council approval will be required and funding secured before implementation.
Likewise, all requests for removal of installed traffic calming measures will require Town Council approval, following public input. The measure was passed unanimously by the Council.