Thursday 7th June 1906
The New York Times reported on an early implementation of what might be considered speed bumps in the US town of Chatham, New Jersey, which planned to raise its crosswalks five inches above the road level: “This scheme of stopping automobile speeding has been discussed by different municipalities, but Chatham is the first place to put it in practice”. The average automobile’s top speed at the time was around 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). Arthur Holly Compton was a physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927 for his discoveries resulting in major changes in electromagnetic theory. He is commonly known for his work on the Compton Effect with X-rays, but also invented what he called “traffic control bumps,” the basic design for the speed hump, in 1953. Compton began designs on the speed bump after noticing the speed at which motorists passed Brookings Hall at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was chancellor. The British Transport and Road Research Laboratory published a comprehensive report in 1973 examining vehicle behavior for a large variety of different bump geometries. At the time speed humps were not permitted on public roads but had been installed on private roads. According to a publication by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the first speed bump in Europe was built in 1970 in the city of Delft in the Netherlands.