What's a speed hump? And why is the City of Detroit spending millions to install them?

Posted at 2:33 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2022-02-04 10:26:39-05

(WXYZ) — A dozen crews are working on the streets of Detroit installing speed humps and speed cushions. They are in high demand to slow down traffic on residential streets, especially where kids live and play.


They are different than the customary speed bumps, not as high or as harsh on vehicles when they hit them.

This is a big investment for Detroit, at $13 million and counting. When this started in 2018, 32 were installed; in 2019, 502; in 2020, 1,141; and in 2021 so far, more than 3,000.

Ken Hardaway is a retired City of Detroit employee and a Vietnam Army Veteran. He’s been trying to get speed humps where he lives on Greenlawn used by drivers to get from 6 Mile to 8 Mile. Parking is only on one side.

"I mean they come down with Hellcats, Demons you name it. They come down here like it’s the Indy 500 test track. They need a speed bump right there, and down there," said Hardaway.

The city is not installing speed bumps. Since they started the program, city crews installed what are called speed cushions, or rubber pads. And they have two contractors installing asphalt speed humps.

"It will also not have that jarring effect, especially for emergency vehicles fire trucks and ambulances," said Caitlin Malloy-Marcon, Detroit Deputy Public Works Director.

Here's the criteria they city uses to pick where these go:

  • Residental streets with 25 mph speed limits
  • Near schools and parks
  • Detroit police records of speeding and crashes
  • Streets that are a "Cut through" to major roads
  • Block density, how many homes are occupied
  • And how many have a lot of children

"Then it’s up to our engineers to decide where that speed hump actually goes on that block," said Malloy-Marcon.

Kenyetta Fortune, who has two children and one grandchild, watched the crews install a speed hump on her street near Denby High School on the east side, after the majority of residents told the city they wanted it and needed it.

"Slow these cars down flying up the street," said Fortune.

The rubber speed cushions can be moved around as needed. The asphalt speed humps can be installed in about 20 minutes with the crew and equipment.

Get this, not everyone wants them. And they are notified when the crews, and the humps are coming.

"We do fliers door to door. Every door gets a notice that your street is about to get a speed hump," said Malloy-Marcon.

How far in advance? A week to 48 hours.

But the majority rules on a street. And for most of the people, it’s all about safety for kids.

"You’ve got kids who ride their bikes in the street, play in the street. Some people don’t care. They just speed right up the street," said La Quana Poole.