European traffic calming began as a grassroots movement in the late 1960s. Angry residents of the Dutch City of Delft fought cut-through traffic by turning their streets into woonerven, or “living yards.” This was followed by the development of European slow streets (designed for 30 kph or 20 mph) in the late 1970s; the application of traffic calming principles to intercity highways through small Danish and German towns in the 1980s; and the treatment of urban arterials in areawide schemes, principally in Germany and France, also in the 1980s.
AN AMERICAN TAKE
In the U.S., a version of traffic calming was practiced as early as the late 1960s and early 1970s in such places as Berkeley, CA, Seattle, WA and Eugene ,OR. The first national study of traffic calming was completed circa 1980. It explored residential preferences related to traffic, collected performance data on speed humps, and reviewed legal issues.
A BODY OF EXPERIENCE
Almost 20 years later, with a track record in place, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funded another study in 1998 which led to the ITE report, Traffic Calming: State of the Practice, by Reid Ewing. As compared to the 1980 study, this report goes beyond residential streets to major thoroughfares, beyond speed humps to a toolbox of calming measures, and beyond legal issues to policy, procedural, and political challenges.