Traffic Calming – does it help improve safety for cyclist?

Traffic Calming, according to Wikipedia, ‘is intended to slow or reduce motor-vehicle traffic in order to improve the living conditions for residents as well as to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Urban planners and traffic engineers have many strategies for traffic calming. Such measures are common in Australia and Europe (especially Northern Europe), but less so in North America.’

Wikipedia also indicates traffic calming can include the following engineering measures:
Narrower traffic lanes — streets can be narrowed by extending the sidewalk, adding bollards or planters, or adding a bike lane or parking. Narrowing traffic lanes differs from other road treatments by making slower speeds seem more natural to drivers and less of an artificial imposition, as opposed to most other treatments used that physically force lower speeds or restrict route choice.

Why do we then experience motorists attempting to overtake cyclists where there is no room to safely undertake?  Below is from Douglas Ave, South Perth where there was 5 of us from work doing the Shelley Loop which adds a nice additional 30kms to my daily commute of around 46kms.

Poor Overtaking Douglas Ave, South Perth

With Curtin University a short distance away, Douglas Ave is one access way into this university and it is important to ensure that roads are safe for cyclists.

City of Joondalup recently undertook similar traffic calming on Glengarry Drive, Duncraig (part of my daily commute to Perth), where I have experienced the same issue including a PTA bus who also attempted to overtake me in a similar location.

Glengary Dr, Duncraig - Feb 2012

Glengary Dr, Duncraig - Apr 2011

Response from City of Joondalup - Jan 2012


There is also the case of traffic calming devices installed on Preston Rd, East Fremantle in May 2011.  BTA wrote to the Town of East Fremantle on the installation of these traffic calming devices  ‘Making roads safer needs more than concrete‘ where response can also be viewed.

City of Joondalup indicates ‘The lane width of the traffic treatment design on Glengarry Drive caters for a regular family size vehicle and a cyclists’ which they indicate is consistent to ‘Australian Standards and is similar to many other traffic management treatments on local roads in the metropolitan area’.  If this is the case, then why couldn’t the car on Douglas Ave, South Perth overtake us safely?

Is traffic calming improving cycling safety?  I’m not too sure.

About Roland

I returned to cycling around 5 years ago, when I decided to start commuting by bike to work. I'm now cycling around 13,500km's annually, and love it.