How To Make Your Neighborhood Roads Safer For Your Kids: Traffic Calming And Asphalt Repair

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How To Make Your Neighborhood Roads Safer For Your Kids: Traffic Calming And Asphalt Repair

27 January 2015
 Categories: , Articles


If your neighborhood has some dangerous streets because of speeding drivers or poorly-kept roads, you probably worry about your kids playing outside or your teens driving in dangerous conditions. If you are planning on taking your concerns to a city council meeting, they'll probably be more willing to talk about these problems if you offer some viable solutions as well. Before you head to a meeting, you may want to write down a few of these traffic calming and asphalt repair solutions.

Traffic Calming Ideas

Traffic calming solutions vary from place to place, but the main idea is to create physical barriers that protect pedestrians and decrease the negative effects of vehicle usages. Here are a few ideas that could help your neighborhood:

Roundabouts

While you could install some more stop signs or yield signs in your neighborhood, these can be easily ignored by reckless drivers. Think about the most busy intersections in your neighborhood or areas where there are many pedestrians (parks, schools, etc.), these places could probably benefit from a roundabout. These are often more effective than a stop sign because they force drivers to lower their speed as they enter the circle. Some areas use these in a series to break up straight roads that have been abused by illegal street racing. If you need to convince your city council, show them the numbers reported by the Federal Highway Administration. One study showed that there was more than 90% reduction in fatalities in areas with roundabouts.

Cushions

Speed bumps and speed humps have had some criticisms over the years since they can potentially delay emergency vehicles like ambulances. To remedy this problem, you may want to suggest speed cushions to the city council. These cushions are made out of rubber and look like low-slope ramps. Unlike speed bumps, they do not span the entire road. The gaps between each cushion allow vehicles with longer axles (like firetrucks) to easily go through them without delay. But regular vehicles with smaller axles would still hit the cushion even if they tried to go through one of the gaps.

Neckdowns and Chicanes

Neckdowns are simply areas where the curb is extended into the road. This is a great option if you are looking to extend a sidewalk in your neighborhood. Like roundabouts, these extensions force drivers to slow down because they don't have a road that is perfectly straight. Chicanes are similar to neckdowns; they are artificial features--like medians--that create horizontal deflections and drivers have to stay more focused to navigate these extra turns. If you have a crosswalk on a wide road, a chicane can help shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. While safety is probably your number one goal at this point, chicanes and neckdowns can give your neighborhood more curb appeal since you have more space for landscaping and lighting.

Asphalt Repair

While traffic calming methods can certainly make your neighborhood safer, your streets may be dangerous simply because of disrepair. If you are worried about your teens driving on treacherous roads or even your children riding their bikes because of potholes, you've got to take action. Since these kinds of requests may take awhile for your city counsel to address, you may want to ask for permission to fix the potholes yourself. 

However, your city counsel may only give their consent if they know you are backed up by a professional asphalt company. A man in San Diego patched a pothole himself, but the city wasn't particularly pleased because they didn't know if he repaired it correctly and they didn't want to encourage others to work in unsafe areas. However, if you get permission from your city and get some help from a professional, you could potentially fix the problem yourself.  

Basic Steps For Pothole Repair

You'll need to gather the following:

  • A bag of cold patch
  • A shop vacuum
  • A shovel and tamper
  • A garden hose with nozzle
  • A sheet of plywood (big enough to cover the pothole)
  • A pair of work gloves

Once you have your gear, follow these steps:

  1. Clean out any junk and loose gravel out of the pothole with your shovel. 
  2. After you've removed the loose pieces, use your vacuum to suck up any little pieces out of the hole and out of the surrounding cracks. These preparations are important since the cold patch won't bond as well to broken pieces of asphalt.
  3. After everything is clear, spray the hole lightly with your garden hose. You don't want to fill up the hole with water. Just use enough water to keep debris settled.
  4. Fill your hole with the bag of cold patch and then tamp the surface (started from the outside of the pothole and working in).
  5. If you don't have a tamping tool, you can put the plywood over the pothole and drive your car over it to tamp it down. To protect the hole, you may want to leave the plywood there and put cones or a warning sign so drivers know to avoid it.

With a plan of action and a willingness to get involved with any repair, you'll have a better chance at being heard at your city counsel's next meeting.

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