We started designing and implementing traffic calming measures in 1992 in the municipality of Getxo as a pioneer town, which served as an icon soon to be imitated by many Basque cities and towns. A few years later, we were invited to teach a course on traffic calming measures and effectiveness in the Bilbao office of the Spanish Civil Engineers Association
Our first applications were raised crosswalks, soon to be followed by raising full intersections, neck-downs, and narrowing of streets. These changes involved a process of prioritization of target locations (schools, transit stations, senior citizens centers,etc.) On the other hand, often we had to modify traffic patterns in order to seek synergies with new pedestrian areas or new ex-novo plazas, as meeting places.
The initial mix of traffic calming measures was later expanded. In particular, we added:
- mini-roundabouts in urban contexts, with adequate capacity and pathing for buses and service trucks
- traffic signal coordination, by setting maximum progression speeds and narrowing band widths to discourage joy rides during late evening hours.
- counters of traffic signals and maximum cycle times to discourage jaywalking
Our biggest award has been a dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities and accidents involving pedestrians, leading often to a more convivial relationship between pedestrians and local drivers (as obviously most people play both roles at one time or another)