‘Safer streets for all’: Securing neighborhood traffic calming devices on your road

single-meta-cal October 26, 2023

Keeping our roadways safe is a top priority for City of Huntsville officials. Thanks to the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program (NTCP), efforts are underway to correct traffic problems that arise in neighborhoods across Huntsville. 

NTCP creates positive changes in residential traffic flow by installing speed tables to reduce speed or new landscaping to alter roadways.  

“Each year, our office received an average of 100 traffic calming requests,” said James Bugg, Traffic Control Manager with the City’s Traffic Engineering Department. “Since 1999, 139 streets have had some sort of traffic calming installed on them.” 

Learn the process

The process to request neighborhood traffic calming can be laborious in some municipalities, but the City has worked to make the process as efficient as possible. 

To nominate a qualified street for the program, residents should explain their situation in the application form here. The form requests specific details on traffic issues in the area, including how long they’ve occurred and if school traffic is involved. 

“Once a street qualifies for traffic calming under NTCP, it enters a prioritization phase,” Bugg said. “Due to limited program funding, a points-based ranking system is employed to assess each eligible street.” 

The ranking looks at factors such as collision history, traffic volume and 85th percentile speeds – or the speed at which 85% of vehicle drivers travel on the street. 

If traffic calming devices are recommended, the lead citizen will be given a petition. Within 90 days, the petition must be circulated among affected households in the area and returned to Traffic Engineering.  

Safer streets

A yellow and black speed bump on a paved roadway.

The goal of installing traffic calming devices isn’t just to make drivers slow down – it’s also about saving lives.

What comes next after a petition is returned and approved? 

“If the petition gains at least 75% approval, our office will proceed with installing (traffic calming) devices,” Bugg said. “We may only have 3-5 streets that qualify per year.” 

Bugg says roads equipped with traffic calming devices typically see a reduction of 300-500 vehicles per day along with slowing down the 85th percentile speeds. 

“There are traffic calming devices in my own neighborhood that were installed before I moved in,” he added. “I traverse them daily and notice they encourage me to reduce my speed. When I’m out walking with my family, I appreciate the devices, knowing they contribute to safer streets for all.” 

Achieving ‘Vision Zero’

The goal of NTCP isn’t just reducing speeds, but also achieving the “Vision Zero” dream Huntsville adopted earlier this year. 

In April, the City of Huntsville joined the “Vision Zero” network. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, the program aims to curb all roadway fatalities by 2050.  

Huntsville is one of more than 50 U.S. communities to join the program as of September 2023. 

Bugg said the plan has already made significant progress through collaboration between several City departments and public meetings. 

“Our inclusive approach is vital as Huntsville experiences continued growth, resulting in more people using diverse forms of transportation,” he said. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure our transportation system functions effectively and safely for everyone.”