Local News

Raleigh Tries New Approach To Slow Traffic Down

Posted September 5, 2001

— Is slower, safer traffic just a few solid white lines away? Eric Lamb, a Raleigh transportation planning engineer working on his master's degree, thinks so. He says speed is often in the driver's mind. Squeezing down wide roads, with a simple white line, could make drivers go slower.

"We're not actually narrowing the lane to anything that's not safe or not driveable, but we're creating a psychological constraint for drivers, and hopefully that's going to change and influence driver behavior significantly," Lamb said.

Lamb just talked the Raleigh City Council into a small $1,500 investment in order to try his white line traffic-calming idea. One of the test streets is Brookeside Drive.

The city is not going to ram the experiment down people's throats -- they will send letters, and if people do not like the idea, they will study another street. But some people have already made up their minds.

"I don't believe it's going to help, I think people go too fast through here, but psychologically people are still going to go just as fast. A line's not going to stop anyone," Ellie Sharp said.

But some people not only agree with the psychology of slowing down traffic, they are studying it. North Carolina State civil engineering students are trying to slow down traffic and make the Centennial Campus more pedestrian-friendly.

"Putting in an island in the middle of the road so when pedestrians are walking along the pedestrian walkway they have a place to stop and they have place of refuge that they can sort of hide behind so they don't get hit by cars, that would help," student Henry Newell said.

Whether on campus or in the neighborhood, new ideas are needed for the old problem of how to slow down traffic.

Raleigh wants to try the solid white lines on Rainwater Road, St. Albans Drive, Sawmill Road, and Brookside Drive. The narrower car lanes will also create room for bike lanes on each of the four streets.

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