'Calming devices' leave some irate
By Scott Maxwell
of The Sentinel Staff
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on July 24, 2000

Two years ago, drivers sped through Rosalind Gaylon`s neighborhood. Sometimes they came as fast as 60 mph along Lake Price Drive, where 25-mph speed-limit signs ineffectively stood guard.
Nowadays, however, anyone trying to zip by Gaylon`s house in east Orange County near the Econlockhatchee River is forced to come to a virtual stop -- nine times -- at speed humps that the county installed.
"Nobody particularly likes them," Gaylon said of the humps that either slow travel times or send bone-rattling jolts up drivers` spines. "But you want to have them, because you can`t stand the traffic."
Orange County officials agree. That`s why they are about to embark on a five-year plan to spend $500,000 on speed humps, traffic circles, landscaped medians and other devices designed to slow traffic.
Sometimes these measures anger drivers. Often, they confuse. But to county officials, they are some of the most effective ways to slow down traffic when posted speed-limit signs -- and even police presence -- haven`t worked.
"More and more communities are concerned about the amount of traffic going through their neighborhoods," said Bill Baxter, director of the county`s public-works department. "And it`s not just the amount, but the speed."
Orange County commissioners will decide whether to spend $100,000 a year for the next five years on these devices at their budget workshops, which begin today. But most commissioners seem enthusiastic about the spending, saying they frequently receive calls from residents who ask for them.
Traffic-calming devices have caught on throughout Central Florida. Orlando has circles scattered throughout downtown. Winter Park uses medians to narrow roads. And residential stretches of road throughout Seminole County are covered with humps.
But Orange County`s new program would be one of the first to designate a specific pot of money every year for the devices. Before, county planners have handled requests on a case-by-case basis.
Still, the humps, medians and circles won`t come free.
Residents who want them will have to match the county`s money with contributions of their own.
The costs can range from about $1,400 for each hump to as much $15,000 for a landscaped traffic circle.
In the past, residents who wanted the devices paid for them through additional one-time taxes - after three-fourths of the residents voted to do so. Similar voluntary taxing districts will be used under the new program. But residents will pay half the cost. And in some cases, such as around schools, the county may cover the entire cost.
Humps, circles and medians aren`t the only calming devices offered.
Recently gaining popularity are electronic trailers that post the speeds of passing drivers -- a reminder of just how fast they are going.
Not sure which device you want?
Well, that`s a common problem -- which is why engineers have developed a program to send trial calming devices to neighborhoods. Such temporary devices include rubber humps and movable circles.
"That way, if they`re not sure, we can put them in for a couple of weeks and see what the reaction is," said Frank Yokiel, the county`s neighborhood-project traffic engineer.
Though the new spending program won`t formally begin, if approved, until Oct. 1, Orange County residents interested in more information can call 407-836-7890.
Posted Jul 23 2000 7:30PM

Calming devices
There are a number of traffic-calming devices that engineers use to slow traffic. But each has advantages and drawbacks. Here`s a look at each.Humps: These are the granddaddy of slow-down devices. Different from the speed bumps you often encounter in parking lots, these 3-inch-tall lumps are wider -- designed to slow, rather than stop. They`re very effective, but cars clunk loudly when they go over them. Plus, they annoy the shocks as well.Circles: It`s tough to speed through an intersection that has a massive concrete circle in the center. But these do tend to confuse people and increase accidents -- especially because some circles have yield signs, some have no signs -- and at least one, downtown, is surrounded by stop signs.Islands: These medians that narrow the streets can be landscaped to look nice. But they`re not very effective. Drivers can still speed along narrow streets.Trailers: These electric signs that tell motorists how fast they`re going become a conscience reminder. But some people`s consciences are different. So some folks still speed past them.