Austin’s ‘speed cushions’ hit bump in the road with residents

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Updated Feb 17, 2018
Posts at this speed cushion in Austin were cut down, possibly by vandals to allow cars to pass without hitting the bump, according to the Austin Transportation Department.Posts at this speed cushion in Austin were cut down, possibly by vandals to allow cars to pass without hitting the bump, according to the Austin Transportation Department.

An effort by the city of Austin, Texas, to slow traffic in residential areas by placing what it calls “speed cushions” – bumps in the road made of rubber – has irked residents throughout the city, according to the Austin Monitor newspaper.

Their purpose is to slow traffic to increase safety. But along with the inconvenience, some say the jolt from the bumps is too jarring and especially harmful to people with disabilities, injuries or other painful medical conditions.

The devices are designed to be narrow enough for emergency vehicles to pass over without impediment. For smaller passenger vehicles, however, the cushions cause drivers to slow down. The city recommends drivers slow to 10 mph to cross the humps to avoid a painful jolt.

Transportation Director Robert Spillar recently defended the devices at a city public safety commission meeting. “We hate to put them out there, but the other side of the story is they’re really effective at getting people to drive a more safe and reasonable speed,” the Monitor quoted him as saying.

The city prefers the devices because they allow emergency vehicles to pass and they cost less than asphalt bumps.

Since the city began installing the devices last year, residents successfully petitioned for them to be removed from one neighborhood.

Spillar said the city is continuing to look into alternatives, including lower cost asphalt bumps that are less jarring, according to the Monitor.