I wrote about our low cost solution for putting in bumpouts in Pine Island with paint and planters here. I saw Shaun Murphy (Minneapolis's Bicycle Coordinator) give a talk yesterday that reinforced the idea of testing things out before we make permanent installations.
Minneapolis has been using barrels, jersey barriers, cones and other devices to create temporary installations of proposed traffic calming measures (traffic circles, bumpouts, refuge medians, etc) for more than 15 years. This allows them to get neighborhood reaction to these devices (sometimes they love them, sometimes they hate them). Temporary installations allow city staff to refine the permanent design as well as collect data on the impact of the device. It is also easier for staff to convince policy makers to give the temporary installation a try. Of course there is additional cost for the temporary installation, but I think the benefits outweigh the cost.
Here's a photo from Shaun showing a temporary installation of a bike/ped refuge island on 42nd Street and 17th Avenue. We collected before/after speed data on 42nd Street for Shaun on this one.
And here's text from Shaun's notice to the area residents -
Minneapolis Public Works will be placing a test median in the Bancroft neighborhood for approximately one month. The test will be conducted at the intersection of 42nd Street E and 17th Avenue S, and is expected to be in place throughout the month of March. The purpose of the test is to gain experience with a proposed permanent median, which would be installed at a later date as part of the federally funded Southern Bike Connection project.
A median is expected to have the benefit of slowing traffic traveling along 42nd Street. A median would also provide a stopping space for bicycles and pedestrians crossing 42nd Street at 17th Avenue. Impacts from the median would include minimal parking loss on 42nd Street and prohibiting left turns from 42nd Street onto 17th Avenue, and from 17th Avenue onto 42nd Street. North-south traffic would also be prohibited on 17th Avenue across 42nd Street.
Temporary signing and barriers will be placed as part of the test, guiding motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians through the intersection according to the parameters above. Comments are welcome through 311. Signs inviting comment will be posted at the median. For more information visit the project website: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/bicycles/projects/Southern-Bike-Connection
In the city of Lynnwood WA, while I was the traffic engineer, we had a entire traffic calming program that installed temporary calming methods using the TrafficLogic bolt down curb, maintenance installed concrete curb,and buttons to provide chicanes, traffic circles, and narrowing of roadway at a number of locations. Then collect before and after data to show how well the method solved the issue and if we needed to make it more permenant or readdress the issue.
Sometimes this actually makes things worse, as in this case from St Paul: http://bit.ly/NxuYZy