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Questions and answers about traffic calming.

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What is traffic calming?

The City is experiencing growth in traffic volume as its population continues to increase. Many residents are expressing concern about the increase in speeding and cut-through traffic on local residential streets. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) defines traffic calming as “the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for nonmotorized street users.” In response to the public’s concern for the safety and livability of their neighborhoods, the City has developed this policy manual as a guide for implementing neighborhood traffic calming projects in the City of Albuquerque.

What are the program’s goals and objectives?

The goals of the NTMP are to address neighborhood traffic safety, preserve neighborhood character and livability, and engage residents through neighborhood involvement. The program will identify improvements that meet these goals through a collective understanding among the residents and City staff of neighborhood traffic issues and concerns, as well as potential solutions. Primary goals and objectives of the program include:

  • Improve Neighborhood Traffic Safety. Excessive traffic speeds are a hazard to neighborhood safety and security. The first goal of this program is to help promote and maintain a safe and pleasant environment for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in the City’s neighborhoods.
  • Preserve Neighborhood Character and Livability. Traffic management plays a vital role in the character and livability of neighborhoods. The measures presented in this manual are intended to reduce the negative effects that automobile use may have in residential areas and increase the livability of the City’s neighborhoods.
  • Increase Neighborhood Involvement. Through the decision-process phases outlined in this manual, residents can assess the various benefits and trade-offs of implementing projects within their own neighborhoods. Because the involvement of residents is a key component in managing neighborhood traffic, the NTMP is designed to encourage residents’ active participation in identifying traffic issues, developing practical solutions, and supporting the ultimate outcome. This policy manual encourages residents to become actively involved in the decision-making process by following the phases outlined to implement traffic calming measures.

How is this manual used?

This NTMP policy manual was developed as a guide for City staff and to inform residents about the processes and procedures for implementing neighborhood traffic calming measures. The manual includes a summary of the City’s goals and objectives for the program, as well as a defined process for implementation, and a toolbox of traffic calming measures.

The procedures to implement neighborhood traffic calming measures are described in Section II – Implementation Process. The proposed process in this manual is consistent with the existing City of Albuquerque Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP). Public participation is highly encouraged as is substantial neighborhood involvement. Available funding will be targeted to those projects receiving higher priority ranking through the process. Projects will be prioritized based on identified needs, available funding, and benefits.

How are traffic problems evaluated?

City staff in the Traffic Engineering Division (TED) will collect and evaluate traffic data, identify system needs, and using the guidelines in this manual will identify a range of appropriate solutions based on the data and engineering judgment. In order of importance, the following lists the most widely used criteria for determining the need for traffic calming on residential streets:

  • Crash frequency – the number and types of crashes is important in understanding multimodal safety and identifying counter measures
  • 85th percentile speeds – an industry accepted threshold for assessing speeding1
  • Traffic volumes and vehicle mix – impacts from automobiles and trucks are different and may require different mitigation measures
  • Cut-through traffic volumes – understanding the origin and destination of trips can help tailor traffic calming strategies
  • Community/neighborhood input and support – key to the development, implementation, funding, and maintenance of traffic calming plans and devices
  • Bicycle and pedestrian activity – protecting these most vulnerable users and providing comfortable environments encourages commuter and recreational use of alternate modes of transportation
  • Established and planned public transportation routes – transit users congregate at public transit stations and stops

Because safety is the most important aspect of traffic calming, crash frequency will serve as the primary evaluation criteria. Traffic issues such as speeding and daily volume will serve as secondary criteria. Community support and participation are also important criteria and are critical to the success of the program.

What are the criteria?

Minimum Guidance Thresholds: Every request for traffic calming will be reviewed by City staff. Upon receipt, staff will determine if the request meets ALL of the following three minimum guidance thresholds:

  1. Functional classification as a local or collector roadway
  2. Has a demonstrated need for traffic management determined through engineering study or Traffic Engineering Division observation that indicates a high likelihood of two of the engineering criteria:
    • Reported crashes in the past 3 years that could be corrected with traffic calming
    • Peak-hour traffic volume greater than 400 vehicles in one direction
    • 25 percent of peak-hour traffic is non-local cut-through traffic
    • 85th percentile speed exceeds the posted speed limit by 5 mph or more. (See Glossary of Terms for further explanation)
  3. Has not been considered for traffic calming measures within the last 5 years

Engineering Criteria: After the petition phase, and once a clear understanding of the neighborhood traffic issues is reached and the extent of the study area has been defined, City staff will collect the necessary data to perform the needed engineering traffic analysis. This analysis will demonstrate whether a traffic issue meets two or more of the following threshold criteria for traffic calming measures:

  • Reported crashes in the past 3 years that could be corrected with traffic calming
  • Peak-hour traffic volume greater than 400 vehicles in one direction
  • 25 percent of peak-hour traffic is non-local cut-through traffic
  • 85th percentile speed exceeds the posted speed limit by 5 mph or more.


  • On designated emergency response routes, only non-physical control measures and those physical control measures that do not slow emergency vehicles will be considered.
  • Only non-physical control and narrowing measures will be considered on roadways with daily traffic exceeding 3,000 vehicles per day.
  • The analysis phase of the Implementation Process described herein will consider unique street characteristics, such as curves, grades or other features. Only non-physical control measures and those physical control measures that do not exacerbate known existing conditions caused by such characteristics will be considered.

What types of streets are appropriate for neighborhood traffic calming?

This NTMP has been created for residential streets which are functionally classified as either local or collector roadways. The traffic calming measures presented in this manual are not typically suitable for streets with higher functional classifications such as major or minor arterial roadways. Functional classification maps are available from the City of Albuquerque’s (COA) Geographic Information System (GIS) Division.

How will projects be ranked?

After a submitted application has been reviewed and compared successfully against the evaluation criteria, it will be considered for implementation. Based on the process defined in Part II of this manual, requests for traffic calming measures will be ranked City-wide based on a point score system. The project applicants will be notified of the resulting project rank after the evaluation.

How will projects be prioritized and funded?

The highest-ranking projects will be included in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and will be implemented as funding is available. The number of implemented projects will depend on the City’s fiscal resources. Previously qualifying projects will not have to be reevaluated and will remain on the priority list. Projects will continue to be ranked for up to 5 years, at which point they will no longer be considered. This time condition has been set to ensure that projects do not become outdated due to changes in resident concerns and traffic conditions.

How will projects be maintained?

Any new infrastructure within the City requires regular and sustained maintenance. Many traffic calming measures are unique in that more frequent maintenance may be required to maintain effectiveness. As an example, because of wear caused by vehicles and snow removal equipment, high-visibility crosswalks have proven to require regular maintenance. As a result, maintenance requirements and estimated life-cycle costs will be considered as part of the evaluation, prior to acceptance and implementation of traffic calming measures. In some cases, such as enhanced landscaping, the petitioning residents or neighborhood group may be asked to contribute through organized volunteer efforts to ensure landscaping is maintained and does not become unsightly.

How will the effectiveness of projects be measured?

Once projects have been constructed and operational for at least 6 months, a post-implementation evaluation will be conducted by the TED. This evaluation will consist of a technical memorandum that determines whether the traffic calming measures or devices have been effective, whether any changes or additional measures are required, or whether, due to ineffectiveness or other undesirable effects, devices should be removed. This process will answer the following questions:

  • Has the traffic calming measure been effective?
  • Has it accomplished the desired goal?
  • Has it created undesirable adverse effects?
  • If implemented on a trial basis, should a more permanent traffic calming measure be constructed?
  • Are additional measures needed to enhance effectiveness?

How will previous requests for traffic calming be handled?

The City has long maintained a list of citizen complaints and requests for traffic calming. A backlog of a dozen projects that were previously warranted and approved will serve as the initial projects under this program. Based on the 2010 NTMP, speed humps were the only device being considered at that time. This new NTMP formalizes the process of requesting, evaluating, and implementing traffic calming measures and includes nearly 40 new devices for neighborhood traffic management. Because resident concerns and traffic conditions may have changed and since the additional devices being considered may better address neighborhood concerns, all requests that were not previously approved for traffic calming and made prior to adoption of this policy manual must be resubmitted for consideration. Once a qualifying project is on the priority list it will remain but will be reprioritized biennially (in odd years to correspond with the bond cycle), with all previously approved projects and newly submitted projects.

Traffic Calming Tools links to more information about each of the tools shown in the manual. We can do this as individual links to each, or a single link that takes the reader to a PDF of just the toolkit section of the manual – whatever you think makes most sense.