ROSWELL, Ga. — Speed humps are no longer an option in Roswell neighborhoods.
The Roswell City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the measure that eliminates vertical deflection devices, like speed humps, as approved traffic calming device in local neighborhoods.
The measure passed Oct. 15, with councilmembers Mike Palermo and Marcelo Zapata opposed.
The vote will affect one of the city’s two traffic-calming programs.
The Residential Traffic Control Enhancement Program covers more passive, standardized devices, like in-street speed signs and radar speed displays, to address speeding about 5-10 mph over the limit.
The Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program covers vehicles traveling 10 mph or more over the speed limit, and usually includes physical improvements to the roadway. Vertical deflection devices, such as speed humps and speed cushions, were once included as an option is this program but are now prohibited. Speed tables, raised intersections and raised crosswalks are also prohibited if used as a speed-hump type deflection.
Transportation Director Muhammad Rauf said vertical deflection may still be used in cases where it consists of a much longer ramp and is not as abrupt as a traditional speed hump.
“One of the reasons that we were getting rid of the vertical deflection devices was really for emergency response,” said City Traffic Engineer Scott Brunner. “The traditional speed hump has some pretty serious issues.”
Speed humps, for example, can actually cause people to speed up more than if the road had no speed humps, he said.
But the biggest problem, Brunner said, is safety.
“They interfere with emergency response, not just response time,” Brunner said. “They affect the way we can safely treat patients and transport them.”
He estimated that a speed hump is about 20-30 percent more dangerous to a motorcyclist than to a car.
Speed humps also raise several other concerns, Brunner said.
“Most pertinent to this area is that their presence tends to reduce property values or create a perception of reduced property values,” Brunner said. “That is the reason most cited for petitions for speed humps to fail.”
Under the city’s new policy, existing speed humps in neighborhoods will not be removed.
The speed hump issue has come up because the city has recently adopted the International Fire Code as part of its Code of Ordinances. As a part of that document, traffic calming devices must be approved by the city’s fire marshal.
Roswell Fire Marshal Charles Vacca said he does not want vertical deflection devices installed on public roadways, and Roswell DOT staff agrees, according to Brunner.
The updated policy provides several alternative traffic-calming devices, including horizontal deflections like chicanes or diverters, narrowing roadways, textured pavement, landscaping and on-street parking.
“I want to encourage residents and HOAs to take a look at the suggested methods of traffic control,” said Councilman Matthew Tyser. “There are some really creative methods in there.”
Not all of the councilmembers were happy with removing speed humps as an option, however.
Palermo said that neighborhood traffic and speeding is one of residents’ top concerns and that he was uncomfortable eliminating an option for controlling traffic.
He questioned whether it was possible to prioritize other traffic calming measures but still keep vertical deflection devices as an option in certain neighborhoods and situations.
Zapata agreed, saying he could not vote for a motion that would remove speed humps entirely.
With the new policy, if a neighborhood requests a new traffic calming device, the city will be responsible for half of its cost. The second half of the bill would be footed by a neighborhood group or association requesting the measure.