As part of its role and mandate to build and maintain a safe and efficient road system for all road users, the City of Toronto continuously makes improvements that have proven to be effective in addressing road safety. One of the primary programs through which this goal is to be accomplished is via the targeted implementation of traffic calming measures, which when applied appropriately can have a positive impact on travel speeds, traffic volumes, and road safety generally.

View the Traffic Calming Guide for Toronto.

Traffic calming is a term used to describe a combination of mostly physical features that are intended to improve traffic use on local collector streets, alter driver behaviour and improve safety conditions for everyone who uses the street.

Some of the most common types of traffic calming measures are traffic circles, raised circles in the middle of intersections that are intended to slow the speed of vehicles as they travel around the circle; choker, chicane or pinch points, devices that create an impediment on the road by placing a fixed object on the street, forcing motorists to divert around the object or slow down on a narrower section of road; and speed humps, raised sections of road to reduce speeds.

Traffic calming has been used successfully to reduce vehicle speeds in residential neighbourhoods. Speed humps are one of the most popular traffic calming measures. Studies have indicated that speeds drop approximately 15km/h between speed humps and about 20km/h at the hump itself.

In a given year, the City receives between 50 to 100 requests for speed humps, installing more than 150 per year. If your community wants to be considered for traffic calming, there are various steps that need to be followed in order to have the City investigate the issue in a particular neighbourhood.

Speeding issues are generally addressed using the City Council approved Traffic Calming Policy (April 2002). The process is initiated by your City Council representative following a public meeting, or upon receipt of a petition signed by at least 25 per cent of affected households, or by a survey conducted by the local Councillor. When a request for traffic calming is received, staff reviews it to ensure that it meets the stipulated technical and safety requirements. After City staff has reviewed the situation, traffic calming may be installed only on streets when the results of a formal poll indicate that a minimum 50 per cent plus one of the ballots mailed to the affected households have responded and at least 60 per cent of the ballots returned are in favour of the proposal.

The Traffic Calming Guide for Toronto provides an overview of what traffic calming is, when and where it can be best used, and what the positive and negative impacts of applying traffic calming measures can be.

The Traffic Calming Policy addresses background to traffic calming, warrant criteria and additional requirements, ranking procedure, and process and administration. For more information, see the Summary of the Traffic Calming Policy, also available is the base report for the above document, City Council’s approved Traffic Calming Policy report (April, 2002).