Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program
The City recognizes that residential streets occasionally have higher speeds and traffic volumes due to shifting traffic patterns and new developments. Isolated, occasional and daily conditions of high speed can affect neighborhood livability. With help from citizens and the City's efforts in education, enforcement, and engineering, these concerns can be addressed. View the City of Kenmore Traffic Speed Mitigation Policy flowchart.
Citizen involvement and data collection are integral parts of all traffic calming projects. The people who live and work in the area of concern have the opportunity to become actively involved in the planning and decision making process.
What is the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program?
The Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program addresses neighborhood traffic concerns identified by citizens and/or community groups. Through active participation by citizens, we can identify the problem, plan the approach, implement solutions, and evaluate their effectiveness.
The City’s traffic calming toolbox includes three categories of solutions referred to as the three E’s: Education, Enforcement, and Engineering.
- Education alerts citizens to ways they can help ease traffic problems in their own neighborhoods. This can include temporary radar devices, direct mail campaigns, newsletter articles and temporary signage.
- Enforcement enlists the help of the Police Department to focus enforcement efforts on the area of concern and increase community awareness of speeding problems through their presence.
- Engineering tools include a variety of traffic calming physical devices that can reduce speed or improve safety. These tools are used only after a data-driven analysis and pursuit of the other two “E”s in an attempt to alleviate the problem.
The City will look to citizens to help identify specific neighborhood characteristics that should be taken into account when identifying solutions. Solutions will be evaluated to ensure that they serve all neighborhood users, do not negatively affect emergency access and other public services, and, in the case of physical devices, have support of a majority of the residents who will be affected.
Why would our neighborhood or street want to participate?
Neighborhoods may participate in the program if citizens notice:
- Vehicles traveling with excessive speed in relation to the posted speed limit
- An increase in pass-through traffic due to development changes
- A high rate of traffic accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle safety and mobility barriers
In the case of each of these situations, citizens should notify the city, and this will initiate the process. A Citizen Action Request may be submitted via the online form on the city website, by phone or by filling out a form at the front desk. Collection of data will be scheduled by the city, and after tabulation and analysis of the data on recorded speeds and volumes, citizens will be involved in the selection of tools that are appropriate to alleviate any excessive speeds or imbalanced volumes.
What can be done now to address vehicle speed concerns in residential areas?
- Neighborhood Speed Watch Program: This program allows citizens the opportunity to check out a radar unit and record the speeds of vehicles traveling in their neighborhood. Radar units available include both a handheld radar gun and a radar trailer.
- Speed radar trailer: A portable trailer equipped with a radar unit which detects the speed of passing vehicles and displays it on a digital reader board. This device shows drivers their "actual" speed versus the posted speed limit and encourages their compliance.
- Radar guns: Handheld devices which allow citizens to determine and record the actual speeds of vehicles on their streets. Requires the use of safety equipment to notify drivers of the citizen speed watch to ensure the safety of drivers and neighbors.
- Neighborhood Newsletter: This program involves a personalized newsletter mailed to your community. The newsletter explains traffic volumes and speeds in your area, refreshes citizens on traffic laws and pedestrian safety, and encourages compliance.
- Target Enforcement: Increased enforcement by the Police Department, Traffic section.
What can be done in the future?
If data collection confirms an issue of excessive speeds, volumes, or rate of collisions, the installation of traffic control devices will be considered. Each of these devices is unique and specific criteria have been established for when and where they may be used. Physical in-road devices can also have other impacts on emergency services, neighborhood noise, and diversion of traffic to other nearby routes.
Other tools for addressing concerns can include road striping revisions, street signage revisions and operational revisions. Use of the most appropriate tools is determined by traffic engineering analysis by city staff. Vehicle volume thresholds in the collected data must be between 300 and 3000 vehicles per day to be considered in the Calming Program. Volumes outside of this range are either too low for devices to be effective when compared with education and enforcement, or high enough that the road is considered an arterial and requires further study.
Additionally, one of the two following thresholds must be met for a road to be considered for changes in the Calming Program:
- Excessive speeds for 85% of vehicles
- The engineering standard for assessing speed on a road is the speed at which 85% of all vehicles are measured to be at or below. This is called the 85th percentile speed. This speed is higher than the average speed of all vehicles and encompasses the majority of all drivers.
- 85th percentile speeds between 5 and 10 miles per hour over the posted limit are of concern, but are stronger candidates for education and enforcement before physical changes are considered.
- 85th percentile speeds in excess of 10 miles per hour over the posted limit are considered excessive and are good candidates for physical changes after an engineering analysis of the roadway.
- High rate of 3-year collision history
- A collision rate of more than one per year for the last three years is considered to be of concern and would lead to an analysis for physical changes.
Based on the data collected and the topography of the area, tools to address traffic concerns may be recommended. Any recommended action will be based on sound engineering and planning principles. Safety remains paramount in the decision-making process, including access for public safety vehicles. To ensure there is consensus among citizens that would be directly affected by these changes and the potential impacts they may have, neighborhood meetings will be held and majority support (60%) is required before proceeding with construction of the physical devices.
How does this program differ from the Neighborhood Transportation Plans?
The Neighborhood Transportation Plans Program (NTPP), the details of which can be found at this link, is a collaborative engagement of citizens within defined Kenmore neighborhoods to address traffic and mobility problems proactively. The NTPP will be collecting input primarily in late 2015 and into early 2016. There may be issues which are not raised during this process, or which occur after this process which are candidates for the Calming program. During the initial rollout of the NTPP, requests to engage in the Calming program will be directed to the NTPP. The Calming program will revert to being the primary means of addressing citizen concerns following the completion of the NTPP for each Kenmore neighborhood.