A day full of Speed Bumps makes you Hump.
So let’s be frank, Speed Bumps are annoying. And personally, I think it gives more trouble rather than a solution. Speed bump functions as a traffic calming feature of road design used to slow traffic. It prevents cars from speeding unnecessary for the safety of pedestrians and helping to reduce speeding which assumes to lessen the noise pollution too within the neighbourhood.
Talking about Town Planning, or more specifically traffic planning, traffic calming features (there are several types, the most common in Malaysia is speed bump) , is one of the crucial planning element, in which to my assumption, from my observation of road bumps placement around Petaling Jaya, local authority should know better of how the placements of bumps affect the overall traffic by contributing to travelling time. This is a chart I spotted from Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, kind of assist you to understand the decision factor for placing bumps.
As much as I acknowledge the reason of this “sleeping police” but the disadvantages of speed bumps can be severe too:
- Slow and hazardous response time of Emergency Vehicle. In terms of affecting emergency services, the London ambulance service estimates that 500 lives are lost each year due to increased response time associated with traffic calming.
- Increase noise by both traversing over the bumps and by using more engine revs.
- The inappropriate design may cause damage to vehicles and its passengers, In Situ Speed Bumps often tear off easily.
- Lack of Maintenance and Poor visual indication is dangerous to users. Most commonly happen in Malaysia, a lot of local authorities simply just In Situ a speed bump a specific place without any reflective strips or paint on it, how would motorist know about it?
- Improper design / too many speed bumps annoy passengers on travelling time.
- If it’s really time-consuming, may divert traffic to parallel residential streets. Refer to the study done in Portland that drivers prefer going to alternative route after the speed bump is installed, suggesting time-consuming over road bumps as unfriendly.
The Polluter instead!
Speed Bump causes Pollution too. Solid road humps cause a significant increase in air and noise pollution. A Transport Research Laboratory study conducted emissions tests on roads with a 75-metre road hump spacing. This found that the ‘stop/start’ pattern of driving:
- Increased Hydrocarbons emissions by 70%-100%.
- Increased CO2 emissions by 50-60%
- Increased CO emissions by 70-80%.
So here comes an innovative solution, still in research though and not commercially available I suppose. The idea of energy generative through kinetic motion has been long started since the industrial age, this includes energy generating shoes or energy generating dancing platform, and now here it is.
Power Generating Speed Bump ,Motion Power, developed by New Energy Technologies (US Company) that can harvest energy from speed bumps. It obtains the kinetic energy that occurs when automobiles slow down or stop at speed bumps. However, the product is still at research phase because of the insufficient amount of energy that can be secured compared to the installation cost. MotionPower™ is best suited for high traffic locations where vehicles are already slowing down. Example installation sites include toll plazas, rest stops, highway off-ramps, truck depots, and traffic calming zones. There is 3 type of products, namely Express, Auto, & Heavy, each serving different type of vehicles. For more info, Visit their website HERE
How it functions
It consists of a series of panels set in a pad virtually flush to the road. As the traffic passes over it, the panels go up and down, setting a cog in motion under the road. This then turns a motor, which produces mechanical energy. A steady stream of traffic passing over the bump can generate 10-36kW of power.
The ramps cost between £20,000 and £55,000, depending on size. The bumps can each produce between £1 and £3.60 of energy an hour for up to 16 hours a day, or between £5,840 and £21,024 a year. Energy not used immediately can be stored or fed into the national grid.
Energy Output and Applications
The electricity energy harvested is estimated 100kWh for 10 thousand cars going through, which does not suggest a lot but it can power up devices nearby such lighting, roadway signage, checkout counters or even LED lights embedded into the road bumps.
So there it is, does it sound new to you? Not for me as I am already expecting several other applications in the research phase too, the concept is relatively easy to understand about, translating kinetic energy into electricity and store it. Anyways but I sincerely doubt this will be applicable in Malaysia, the cost, for now, is just too high and takes too long to be recovered I suppose. Nevertheless, it makes you think what other related applications can be done 😉