City of Syracuse Awarded 2023 ITE New York Upstate Section Project of the Year for Innovative Speed Hump/Speed Cushion Pilot Program

October 6, 2023

The City of Syracuse received the 2023 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) New York Upstate Section Project of the Year award for its Speed Hump/Speed Cushion Pilot Program, showcasing the City’s commitment to safety and community well-being.  

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Fisher Associates was proud to partner with the City on this effort to engineer a lasting solution for neighborhood road safety. Our mission was to design initial speed humps and launch the pilot program, aiming to create safer streets around the clock. These strategically placed speed humps have not only effectively reduced speeds but also improved driver behavior. 

Speed’s Role in Safety 

The importance of reducing vehicle speed cannot be overstated: Studies of national data reveal that the risk of severe injury or death for pedestrians struck by a vehicle increases dramatically with higher speeds. A person hit by a vehicle traveling at 58 mph has a 90% probability of suffering severe injury or death, versus 10% probability at 23 mph. Additionally, data from 2022 shows that motor vehicle crashes remained a critical concern, claiming the lives of over 42,000 people in 2022. Speeding was identified as a significant contributing factor, particularly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrian fatalities reached a 40-year high in 2022, with approximately 7,500 pedestrian deaths in traffic collisions. Collisions involving speeding vehicles were found to be twice as likely to result in fatalities compared to other types of crashes. 

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The City of Syracuse Speed Hump/Speed Cushion Pilot Program 

In 2021, the program began with the design and installation of speed humps at five key points in the City. These installations drove speed reduction in most areas – with one major street experiencing a 39% drop in average travel speeds – and helped show that speed humps impart no negative impacts to right-of-way infrastructure, drainage, or pavement. 

In the second year of the program (2022), the initiative expanded its efforts. It introduced speed cushions, a variation of speed humps designed to allow larger vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks to pass through without disruption while still effectively reducing passenger vehicle speeds. Collaboration with the Fire Department played a vital role in the design to ensure safe passage for emergency vehicles.  

Now, in year three (2023), the program is taking safety to the next level. It involves the installation of speed cushions at 22 locations across Syracuse, as well as the introduction of the city’s first raised crosswalk in Armory Square, aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety. 

The City plans to assess the program’s impact in 2024, with the potential to expand it city-wide if positive results continue. The speed hump/speed cushion pilot program has received a positive response from Syracuse residents, with many expressing support and requesting additional installations in their neighborhoods. The City recognizes the importance of this initiative in improving road safety, reducing injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, and preventing fatal accidents. Moreover, the collaboration with the Department of Public Works has helped keep installation costs low. 


Emily Smith

Emily Smith, P.E.
Vice President, Director of Transportation
585.334.1310 ext.255

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