Road Safety News

TfL using ‘virtual bumps’ to discourage speeding

Friday 11th August 2017

Image: BBC

Virtual speed bumps are being used to discourage drivers from speeding on London roads (The Mirror).

The Transport for London (TfL) initiative uses perspective to create the illusion of speed bumps, even though the surface of the road is flat.

The idea was first trialled on the A117 in Newham in November 2014, and has since been rolled out at 45 locations across the capital, The Mirror reports.

The aim is to bring traffic down to speeds of below 20mph, according to TfL.

Nigel Hardy, TfL's head of sponsorship, road space management, said: “We are working hard to create a road network which is free from death or serious injury.

“This Vision Zero approach to reducing road danger includes testing the effectiveness of 20mph limits on parts of Transport for London's road network.

“As part of these trials a number of different measures - including new signs, road markings and painted speed bumps – are being introduced to reduce traffic speeds.

“We will continue to try new speed reducing ideas to save lives and prevent injury on our roads.”

Speed humps have been prominent in the news in recent weeks after the Government’s new plans to tackle air pollution controversially hinted at their removal.

In an open letter to environment secretary Michael Gove, Living Streets, Cycling UK and the Campaign for Better Transport said that the measure is, at best, ‘an expensive diversion from addressing air quality’ and at worst ‘dangerous and retrograde’.

London is not the first place to test ‘optical illusion’ speed bumps. Philadelphia introduced the novel traffic calming measure in 2008.

At the time, Charles Denny, Philadelphia’s chief traffic engineer told the Telegraph: “The goal is to change the mind-set.”


Related stories

Removing speed humps a ‘dangerous and retrograde’ measure
2 August 2017

Government unveils plans to tackle vehicle pollution
27 July 2017


Categories: Speed, Public health.



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It makes a nice quote Rod “demanding that non-compliance with speed limits is neither condoned nor tolerated”. Worthy of a campaigner who has no responsibility to deliver the solution. Nothing wrong with being a bit altruistic of course, just so long as you don’t get carried away with expecting anything to happen.

Unless the government throw a LOT more money towards road safety and undertake a profound change of perspective, phrases like that may circulate for years without making much difference.

Sitting in the ‘pragmatic realist’ camp, I don’t, unfortunately, see an easy win with ever increasing numbers of self-centred drivers with resistant negative attitudes and reducing police budgets and staff.

A change of mindset, which we both agree is clearly needed, is frequently resisted by government until a catastrophic event happens…..
Pat, Wales

Agree (8) | Disagree (6)

This really is nothing new. In the real world outside of London where funding has been an issue for some time 'virtual' painted humps and cushions have been used before (Manchester is one). They may work for a while and will be ignored.
Nadeem Up North

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

Elisa - you already have Intelligent Speed Adaptation in your car - it's you, as the person in control of it!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

I would like to have an Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) retro-fitted to my car. Car manufacturers save car safety features as add-on, often only available on their top end cars, not small city cars. Virtual speed bumps are a daft idea.
Elisa, London

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

I have always felt that speed bumps which try to communicate with drivers via their "buttocks and spines" are rather a blunt instrument. They act only for a length of 300mm every 100m and provide least inconvenience and discomfort to the larger vehicles.

They really do indicate the failure of education, engagement and enforcement. We need to be honest with drivers. Where the community has set a speed limit then that is the maximum that will be tolerated and those who ignore that will be subject to the law.

With modern ANPR and processing technology this isn't difficult. It just needs a change in mindset of government and those concerned with road safety to stop condoning illegal driving above the speed limit.

ISA is an obvious benefit but in the meantime we could make great advances in the liveability, sharing and safety of our roads by demanding that non-compliance with speed limits is neither condoned or tolerated.
Rod King, Warrington - 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (9) | Disagree (7)

Sorry to sound a kill joy on this but...problems, problems, problems...

If drivers believe they are real, then you will still get the brake - accelerate cycle from poor drivers. If they don't then poor drivers won't get the message and drive fast, only to come to grief on the first real one they (literally) hit.

Road humps have to be between 25 and 100 mm in height - someone could claim these are illegal.

Some low (35 to 50 mm) bitumen speed cushions are nearly 'psychological' in effect and only cause complaints both about either being ineffective or obstructive.
Mark, Cardiff

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Change the mindset. Implement ISA now!

(TfL's already done it for buses ... )
Andrew Fraser

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

Just remembered - anyone else recall the 3D road markings on Tomorrow's World years ago? Arrows which appeared to stand up so drivers would see them better in a car park. Pretty sure the outcome of the trials was that drivers swerved to avoid them........
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

I always thought that the road markings I encounter regularly in a part of Halton Borough were an attempt at creating a 3D illusion of a hump? White paint nicely worn away with a bit of red surface colouring left. They never did seem to make a difference. Perhaps speed measurements were carried out by the local Highway Authority? Perhaps Halton's patent has been infringed?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

First of all unless the speed humps are the full width of the road drivers will not slow down. Also by the look of them they seem to be the narrowest of humps and many drivers will just straddle them and retain as much speed as they can.

Finally I cannot believe that they have been sucessfully trialled elsewhere, in so many areas and since 2014 and have worked? Driver are not thick and will remember where the false humps are and therefore will in time totally disregard them.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (15) | Disagree (1)

Perhaps it is just a new take along the same principle as the vinyl fake potholes that did the rounds about 10 years ago in places like Canada and Australia? I think it only works on the first pass....then drivers revert to type. Not likely to change behaviour but perhaps it may act as a useful nudge in a broader campaign?
Pat, Wales

Agree (15) | Disagree (1)