ITE Journal April 2018 - 28
n October 2017, more than a hundred students, teachers, parents, and neighbors were
involved in painting two connecting crosswalks on the Wilson Avenue intersection
leading to the elementary school in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. The City of Kitchener
has embraced a new way of engaging residents in traffic calming and neighborhood
placemaking. Created in early 2017, the resident-led traffic calming program encourages residents
to propose, design, and implement projects such as painted crosswalks, intersection murals, and
pop-up, temporary measures.
The program is part of Kitchener's Love My Hood neighborhood
strategy, which encourages residents to take the lead in shaping
their neighborhood. Residents choose the projects they care
about, whether that's traffic calming, community gardens, pop-up
markets, or street parties. The city supports these initiatives with
plain language "how to" guides, funding opportunities, and by
actively simplifying processes and shielding residents from red tape.
The resident-led traffic calming program hopes to achieve
several goals, including positively engaging residents on
traffic calming issues, creating beauty through neighborhood
placemaking, and reducing speeds on neighborhood streets.
Just one year into the program, the long-term impact is still
developing. Evaluating the program will focus on answering three
Does the program build trust between residents and city staff?
Does the program bring beauty to neighborhood streets?
Does the program reduce traffic speeds?
All three goals are equally valuable in this innovative approach
to community building, placemaking, and traffic calming.
Making it Easy for Residents to Get Involved
In Kitchener, there are three streams of traffic calming, with
resident engagement at the heart of all three. The first stream,
known as traditional traffic calming, involves staff collaborating
extensively with residents to develop a formal plan that generally
includes physical construction. The second stream, seasonal traffic
calming, relies on ward councilors and residents getting together
to develop an annual plan and priority list for the ward, through
use of variable speed and pylon signs. The third stream is residentled traffic calming, where residents have an opportunity to work
together with each other and city staff to initiate, plan, lead, design,
and implement traffic calming projects, using their own creativity
and collective efforts.
Ap r i l 2018
i te j o urn al
Residents are encouraged to come up with their own ideas that
are unique and specific to their particular street. The most common
examples include painted crosswalks, intersection murals, planter
boxes on the boulevard, neighborhood lawn signs, temporary or
"pop-up" measures, and alternative uses of parking spaces.
A step-by-step "how to" guide, prepared by staff in consultation
with the community, lays out all the important information in an
engaging, plain language format. The guide is designed to make it
simple for any group of residents-they don't need to be part of a
formal organization or be experienced working with city hall-to
come up with an idea and run with it. The guide walks residents
through nine steps, including things like gathering neighborhood
support, drafting a design, getting approval and planning the
installation. The guide can be found online at lovemyhood.ca/
Accompanying the guide is a set of guidelines and technical
details that will inform and impact a project. The guidelines
describe important safety considerations, accessibility needs, and
legislative requirements. They help residents shape the design of
a project, as well as provide the standards upon which city staff
evaluate and approve the designs. Prepared by city staff, this
information is also presented in a plain language format that is easy
Neighborhood support is critical in all traffic calming ventures,
but is particularly crucial to the success of any resident-led traffic
calming program. Not only is it important that residents support
projects they will encounter every day, but the requisite process
of gathering neighborhood support is also a valuable community
builder. Along with notifying 100 percent of residents living within
a block of any proposed measures (up to a maximum of 120 meters
[394 feet]), residents must also gather signatures of support from 60
percent of neighbors living within that same distance.
Funding support is available through the City of Kitchener's
Neighborhood Matching Grant. Residents can apply for up to