To view a recent presentation (July 8, 2010) at an informational meeting on traffic calming, please click on the following link. Walnut Road Traffic Calming Project Informational Meeting.
Speeding on Residential Streets
One of the most persistent and emotional complaints that the City of Norman receives is speeding and “cut-through” driving on residential streets. Each year, there are numerous requests received by City council members and other City administration and staff to “do something” about the problem. Proper street design is essential in encouraging lower speeds, minimizing cut-through traffic, and maintaining the integrity of residential neighborhoods. Through the City platting and development process, new subdivisions are now being designed to avoid long straight stretches of streets which encourage higher speeds.
It is on the long segments of existing streets that most of the speeding complaints are generated. In the past, issues of speeding and cut-through traffic could only be addressed through educational efforts, expanded police enforcement, and the unwarranted use of regulatory signs. Now, however, traffic calming techniques have been developed to reduce speeding problems and heavy flow on residential streets. By making some residential streets more “calm,” it makes the neighborhood more liveable. These physical calming measures have been developed for use when education and enforcement endeavors have failed. In response to many citizen inquiries, the Traffic Division created an informational brochure that could be distributed to those citizens seeking additional information. To access a copy of this brochure, please click on the following: Traffic Calming Brochure. In addition, the City has developed a Traffic Calming Program Procedures Manual. To view a copy of this manual, click on the following: Traffic Calming Manual.
Why not STOP Signs?
STOP signs are regulatory installations that require enforcement. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD], which includes policies and guidelines for the installation of STOP signs, has also been adopted by the City Of Norman (Section 20-1112 of the City’s Code of Ordinances). The policies it contains identify specific traffic and pedestrian volumes, accident history, and any unusual conditions which will result in the desired driver response once a traffic control device is installed. If those conditions are not present, a percentage of the drivers will ignore the traffic control device. Furthermore, the belief that a device is not needed or warranted tends to jeopardize the effectiveness of all traffic control devices. It is for this reason that MUTCD specifically says that STOP signs shall not be used for speed control.
There is no single measure, such as STOP signs or speed humps, for solving all residential traffic problems. Each location has its uniqueness that must be analyzed to identify solutions. For this reason, the City of Norman, like several other communities nationwide, has developed a calming toolbox for customizing solutions. Among the “self-enforcing” devices in the toolbox are:
- Choker Curbs
- Offset Choker Curbs
- Curb Bulb-outs
- Center Island Medians
- Divided Residential Entrances
- Traffic Circles
- Raised Crosswalks
- Speed Humps/Tables
- Turn Restriction Barriers*
- Diagonal Diverters*
- Semi-Diverters (Half Closures)*
- Mid-Block Closures*
- Complete Road Closures*
* Note: The measures that change traffic circulation patterns require input from emergency responders and City Council discussion and approval.
For a street to be eligible for the Traffic Calming Program, certain qualifying criteria must be met:
- “85th Percentile Speed” must exceed 33 mph, and
- Average Daily Traffic (ADT) must exceed 600 vehicles per day.
If the number of reported speed-related accidents in a 3-year period exceeds 5 accidents, this can be used as a substitute criterion in lieu of either the speed or volume requirement.
Going through the Process
The first step in the process of getting a traffic calming project is to collect traffic data on the street. This requires a written request, signed by 4 or more residents on the street, to be sent to: City Transportation Engineer, Public Works Department, 201-A West Gray, Norman, OK 73069. The data collection is scheduled during the spring months while school is in session so we can get a more typical view of the traffic. After analyzing the data, the City will notify the requester as to whether or not the street qualifies for a calming project. If it does, the next steps will be:
- Deployment of speed feedback radar trailer and/or enhanced police enforcement.
- Second traffic study to evaluate the effect of the enforcement efforts.
- If the problem persists, a neighborhood meeting is scheduled to discuss a more permanent calming plan (typically in late summer and early fall).
- Circulation of a support petition (60% needed) (typically in the fall until the end of the year).
- Hiring of a contractor (typically in January).
- Construction (during the spring and summer months).
The entire process takes approximately one year if all time window deadlines are met.