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Speed bumps in Charlotte are changing. Here's what you're seeing

"Speed cushions" are designed to slow down passenger vehicles while easing the burden on buses and emergency vehicles.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You've seen them countless times - and you remember the times you didn't see them (and maybe hit them going a little too fast?) Now, speed bumps are getting overhauled.

Since 1997, nearly 2,000 speed-controlling devices have been installed on Charlotte city roads. Most, some 96% of them in Charlotte, are called "speed humps." These contemporary cousins to the classic "speed bump," extend across the entire roadway and act as little hills. It's less steep than the classic bump with only a height of three or four inches, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. 

It even has a hipper, cooler cousin, the "speed table," an elongated hump with a flat section atop, which is typically 10 feet wide, according to the highway administration.

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The city of Charlotte has not installed a new speed hump since 2021, according to city data.  That's because, since 2019, the city has been exploring "speed cushions." Of the 33 speed-controlling devices installed this year by the Charlotte Department of Transportation, all of them have been speed cushions.

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Like a speed hump, a speed cushion extends across the roadway and typically raises your vehicle a few inches off the ground. Speed cushions have one glaring difference from a speed hump: It has cut-outs, or gaps, where the roadway surface remains unchanged. 

These cut-outs, which are typically on either side of the roadway's center line, allow emergency vehicles and transit buses to pass without the dreaded bump. It's also more environmental because water can flow through the cushion.

Credit: WCNC

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"Emergency response agencies and community groups have been cited in the belief that speed humps increase the amount of time for an emergency vehicle to respond to calls," the authors of a 2004 study wrote. 

The openings in the cushions are not meant for passenger vehicles, which would have to drift into the middle of the road to use the openings. However, bicyclists and motorcycles can typically pass safely through the gap that overlaps with those modes of transportation's side of the road.

Credit: WCNC

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

Some of the most recent speed cushions are created with rubber instead of asphalt.

In Charlotte, speed humps still largely outnumber the speed cushions. As new speed cushions are installed, and older speed humps get retired, you could start to see more cushioning in your drive. Until then, if you want to see one for yourself, they're installed at these locations in Charlotte:

  • 1102 Polk St.
  • 2754 Mayfair Ave.
  • 2321 Belvedere Ave.
  • 446 W Worthington Ave. 
  • 2644 Mayfair Ave. 
  • 4917 Craigwood Drive
  • 1048 White Plains Road 
  • 1301 Woodland Drive
  • 1421 Woodland Drive
  • 2091 Katherine Kiker Road 
  • 1245 Polk St.
  • 152 S Canterbury Road 
  • 2703 Starnes Road
  • 6216 Glenridge Road
  • 2921 Starnes Road
  • 513 Kentbrook Drive 
  • 607 Kentbrook Drive
  • 9938 Glenburn Lane
  • 1025 Druid Circle
  • 925 Druid Circle
  • 916 Polk St.
  • 4214 Wright Ave. 
  • 5908 Wallace Ave. 
  • 4825 Craigwood Drive
  • 6044 Glenridge Road
  • 2301 Katherine Kiker Road
  • 5330 Poplar Springs Drive
  •  5200 Poplar Springs Drive 
  • 2900 Belvedere Ave.
  • 1011 White Plains Rd Lake Drive
  • 5630 Kildare Dr Lake Drive
  • Paper Birch 
  • Walker Road
  • Allen Road S. 
  • Walker Road
  • 2124 Catherine Simmons Ave. 
  • Browne's Pond Wilora Lake Road
  • Atlas Cedar Drive
  • 6012 Elmwood Circle
  • 6401 Elmwood Circle
  • Donnefield Drive
  • Polk and White Road
  • Lincrest Place
  • 546 Nottingham Drive
  • Allen Road S. 
  • Wilora Lake Road
  • Polk and White Road
  • Browne's Pond Atlas Cedar Drive
  • 2819 Mulberry Pond Drive
  • Kilcullen
  • 844 Nottingham Drive
  • 2712 Mulberry Pond Drive
  • 451 Nottingham Drive
  • 2735 Rozzelles Landing Drive
  • 4736 Cheviot Road
  • Rozzelles Landing Drive
  • Progress Lane
  • Starnes Randall Road 
  • Progress Lane
  • Hollybrook Drive
  • Starnes Randall Road
  • 4941 Cheviot Road
  • Orange St.
  • Cherrycrest Lane
  • Windsor Drive


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