Although they are sometimes lumped together, traffic management and traffic calming are different tools and address different problems. Traffic management includes the use of traditional traffic control devices to manage volumes and routes of traffic. Traffic calming deals with what happens to traffic once it is on a street. For example, limiting access to a street (e.g., diverting traffic from entering a street on one end) may reduce the amount of traffic on that street, but will do nothing to affect the speed of the traffic that travels on that street or others. Traffic management and traffic calming are often complementary, and a plan to retrofit an area often includes a variety of tools.
Communities should think about the broader context of traffic. If there
is too much traffic on any one street, it may be that there is too much
traffic altogether. A more significant plan to reduce overall traffic
volumes would be appropriate—encouraging and providing for alternate
modes of travel by developing pedestrian and bicycling networks, implementing
Transportation Demand Management, enhancing transit systems, improving
land-use planning, etc. Comprehensive traffic reduction or mitigation
strategies are important; however, these are beyond the scope of this
guide. Resources that provide guidance on these issues are included
in the reference section.
Traffic calming and traffic management should be assessed from an areawide
perspective. The problem should not just be shifted from one street to
another. Although implementation usually occurs in stages, an overall
plan can be developed up-front, involving a larger neighborhood or area
of the city.