Traffic Calming in School Zones, “The Answer Man” Knows!

Asheville, North Carolina’s John Boyle authors a clever column in the Citizen-Times called “The Answer Man.” For this, people submit questions and John provides them with answers.

On Valentine’s Day, he responded to a question about making school zones safer: What works in making people slow down in school zones? Or what makes school zones safest? What organization does this research? Are the schools and transportation officials aware of this research? Are we following the recommendations?

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We hear these questions frequently as we work with law enforcement agencies, cities and municipalities and more. So it’s particularly interesting to see them raised in a forum like this.

Boyl’s answer is gold! It essentially serves as a public service announcement educating readers on Asheville’s vision for safe school zones, which is impressive because it’s so comprehensive.  Asheville has melded the tried and true traffic calming measures with modern-day best practices.

According to Jeff Moore, city traffic engineer with the city of Asheville, “Our ideal school zone design would include signs, flashers and radar speed signs.” What’s not included are any vertical implements, like speed humps. Eventually, the city hopes to make all 19 of the school zones in Asheville “uniform in their appearance and function.” The city is following MUTCD guidelines, ITE recommendations and is working with the NCDOT to ensure both local and federal regulations are met.

Asheville’s comprehensive approach to traffic calming follows a model we’ve promoted for years. C Communities that want to follow in Asheville’s footsteps will find these helpful:

  1. Creating a Safe, Effective School Zone Traffic Plan”  
  2. Safe School Zone Checklist,” an evaluation tool to help analyze the specific safety needs of your school.

Hat tip to Asheville and to “The Answer Man” for educating the public on what traffic calming in school zones can and should look like.