Saturday, April 24, 2010

Speed Humps on Temple St, Beacon Hill, Boston

Figure 1: Temple St Location
Submitted by Matt Delilla

Temple St is a one-way street with two clear forms of traffic calming in use. The first application of traffic calming is speed humps placed three times along the road. The second application of traffic calming is a nearly 2ft perpendicular movement of the road about 1/3 the way along the street.

Figure 2: Temple St

Temple Street is a high residential road with nearly 3/4 of the street containing apartments. The other 1/4 of the street consists of academic buildings for Suffolk University. Temple Street begins along the low traffic Deme St in the Beacon Hill neighborhood and continues for about 500ft ending at the high traffic Cambridge St. To further enforce that pedestrians come first, parking is not allowed the length of the street on either side.

Figure 3: No automobile but plenty of bicycle parking

First observation noticed about Temple St was the ownership exhibited by the pedestrians and bicyclists along it. The pedestrians walking along the sidewalk did not even notice a vehicle passing by them; some were even walking along the paved street itself. In addition, to the safe feeling expressed by the pedestrians, only 3 vehicles used the road within the 40 minute observation period. All three of these vehicles were cautious along the entire length of the street. The three speed humps did seem to slow the vehicles down a visually significant amount; from about 15 mph to between 5 and 10 mph. The speed humps are placed at strategic places, 1/4 way from the beginning (about 125ft), additionally about 300ft and 425ft from the beginning. This placement does a proper job of calming vehicle traffic and giving precedence to pedestrians.

Figure 4: Speed Hump

In the 175ft gap between the first and second speed humps the road is cut perpendicular to the direction of travel and moved 2-3ft laterally to the right. This separation is strategically lined with red paver bricks, and connects the left sidewalk with a seating area and the right sidewalk. From a personal driver's perspective this feature does a better job of calming traffic when compared to speed humps alone. It makes the road appear narrower than it really is, forcing you to drive slower and better notice your surroundings.

Figure 5: Calm streets for everyone

While these two features combined do a superb job of slowing and calming traffic, one recommendation can still be made. While the speed humps are placed in ideal locations along the length of the street, they are extremely hard to see. If a white or yellow line was painted at the start of the speed hump it might further enforce the calming action and not startle drivers when abruptly crossing them.


  1. No comment about the flush curb on one side? Or about the appearance of the street? The treatment was designed to achieve a look / feel that would influence motorists' and pedestrians' behavior (which you allude to).

    The large brick paved area at the entrance to a Suffolk U building isn't adequately described. The photo, due to the sun's effect, doesn't make the treatment clear.

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