How to apply for a speed hump on your street in Los Angeles

Tired of watching cars speed down your quiet residential street? Concerned about the school kids crossing without help from a traffic light or stop sign? Now is your chance to do something about it if you live in the city of Los Angeles.

From Thursday, 9:00 a.m., the city will open the application window for speed bumps, the low and wide version of the well-known parking lot bumpers. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation says it will only accept 25 applications from each of the 15 city council districts before the window closes. The earlier you apply, the better your chances are.

In addition, DOT spokesman Colin Sweeney said the agency probably won’t have enough money to build all of these new mounds of enforced delay, which cost $11,000 to $67,000 per installation. That means some qualified applicants may have to try again next year when the DOT accepts a new round of proposals.

On the plus side, there’s no cost to apply, and the city (or, more accurately, its taxpayers) will pick up the full road hump bill.

Applying for speed limits is an act of self-sacrifice — or possibly self-loathing — because if you’re successful, you and your neighbors will have to drive over things far more often than anyone else. The asphalt mounds also slow emergency vehicles, so the installation of these and other “traffic calming methods” should be coordinated with the fire service, according to the Federal Roads Administration, to conform to local interpretations and fire safety standards requirements.

In fact, according to Los Angeles County ordinances, “traffic calming devices, including but not limited to speed bumps and speed bumps, are prohibited unless approved by the fire officer.”

When it comes to whitening lead feet, however, speed bumps are far more effective than the occasional appearance of a squad car or motorcycle cop. Let’s face it, people speed so often because they rarely get caught.

According to the DOT, more than 800 speed bumps were installed in LA neighborhoods between 2017 and 2020. The program has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If speed limits are the answer to your safety prayers, you’ll need to download an application from the DOT website (starting again Thursday at 9am) to start the process. But be warned, there are many boxes to check. The following information is taken from the policy and fact sheet posted on the department’s website.

What exactly are we talking about here?

A speed bump, as the name suggests, is a hump in the pavement, typically made of asphalt. Those laid out by the LADOT are about 2½ inches high and 12 feet to 22 feet wide.

Unlike narrow speed bumps, which are designed for parking lots where cars are not supposed to travel more than 15 mph, speed bumps are designed for vehicles traveling at street speeds. But no highway speeds! Going over a speed bump at 60 mph wouldn’t be as harmful as going over a speed bump like a demon, but it wouldn’t be good.

However, the payout is safe. Researchers have found speed bumps significantly reduce speed and create a safer traffic environment for children.

Who can apply?

Any local resident can apply for a speed bump on their street, but it pays to be the early bird.

The city only accepts one application per stretch of road—that is, the distance from one stop sign or traffic light to the next. The first applicant is appointed the block representative, who must then gather enough support in the neighborhood to pass muster at the DOT. (More on that later.)

Which road sections are eligible?

To qualify for speed limits, a segment must have a speed limit of no more than 30 miles per hour. It should have only one lane in each direction and a constant diet of speeders; At least 85% of traffic must be more than 8 km/h over the limit. And there needs to be a fair amount of traffic, but not too much – at least 900 vehicles per day, but typically no more than 10,000.

Applications should be made for a segment at least 600 feet long that can accommodate two speed bumps, but no longer than 1,300 feet.

Steep hills are a no-go; the maximum grade is 8%. Likewise, sharp turns are disqualifying as drivers must be able to see a speed bump from at least 150 feet away. Poor drainage is also a deal-killer, as are mid-street drains (which rule out alleys).

Other restrictions include no humps near hospitals, fire stations, or police stations; in front of driveways or commercial buildings; above entrances to sewers; or in locations that prevent catch basins or storm drains from functioning properly. There should also be no bumps on designated truck or bus routes.

What about the neighbors?

Although it only takes one person to apply, winning a series of speed bumps requires significantly more support from the people living along the section in question. After all, these are the people who have to drive over these things every day.

Here’s how the process works. Once the DOT determines that an initial application meets the minimum criteria for speed limits, it gives the block representative an “Application for Study” form. The representative must then collect signatures in support of Humpbacks from either 10 people living on the section or half of the addresses there, whichever is less.

Once signatures are submitted, the agency will examine the segment to see if speed bumps are feasible. If so — and if there’s still money left in the speed hump pot — the DOT will ask the block representative to pass one final test: convincing at least two-thirds of the segment’s residents to sign off on the project.

Are there any disadvantages?

You mean other than having to drive over it all the time? The DOT cites two: Road noise could get worse because the sound of a vehicle going over a speed bump is significantly louder than that of a vehicle going over a slick sidewalk; and the bumps will likely be right in front of someone’s property, as will the signs warning people of the obstacles.

Melissa Hernandez, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from the Times’ Utility Journalism team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of people in Southern California by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids in decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles—including current Times subscribers and diverse communities whose needs have not been met by our coverage in the past.

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