One of the City of San Antonio's goals is to improve mobility safety across all modes of travel in a way that fits in a given neighborhood environment. This Traffic Calming Handbook is aimed at improving neighborhood quality of life by providing traffic calming options on residential streets. Traffic calming refers to improving street features to reduce the negative effects of speeding and cut‐through traffic while enhancing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. These efforts are typically aimed at reducing vehicle speeds and/or the volume of non-local traffic in residential areas.
Disclaimer: This handbook is intended as a guidance only. There are City ordinances which authorize what can be constructed in the public right-of-way. The Department of Public Works is accountable for determining what can be constructed in the public right-of-way to ensure the welfare and safety of all users. Citizen requests that do not meet all traffic calming requirements as identified in this handbook may be denied. For more information please contact 311.
Speed humps have historically been the most commonly used solution for traffic calming issues in San Antonio, although other measures are also available. This handbook details alternative traffic management measures that also address specific traffic issues and provides guidance on selecting the most appropriate measure that addresses specific traffic issues.
A city's transportation network is generally comprised of three different street classifications, which include local, collector and arterial roadways. Per the City's Unified Development Code, local streets are generally lower volume streets (500 to 8,000 vehicles per day) primarily providing access to residential properties. Collector streets have higher traffic volumes (8,000 to 10,000 vehicles per day) and connect local streets to arterial streets, which are identified on the Major Thoroughfare Plan. Arterial streets carry the highest volume of traffic (14,000 to 46,000 vehicles per day) and generally connect to local highways.
Traffic calming measures are typically appropriate on two-lane local residential streets with lower traffic volumes. Certain traffic calming measures may not be used on major collector or arterials roadways. Traffic calming measures should be used to address extraordinary traffic problems within residential areas, like unusually high traffic volumes and/or high operating speeds. Traffic count collection or other studies may need to be completed to determine the nature and severity of the traffic problem when evaluating alternative treatments. Public Works staff will make the final recommendation on which traffic calming measure, if any, is most appropriate.
Complete Streets Policy
The City of San Antonio adopted a Complete Streets Policy on September 29, 2011. The Policy encourages an approach to street design that supports pedestrian and bicycle oriented neighborhoods; promotes healthy living, fitness, and activity; enhances the economic vitality of commercial corridors and districts; and maximizes the benefits of investment in public infrastructure. The Complete Streets Policy will be considered when traffic calming measures are being identified.
One of the most important principles of the Complete Streets concept is that each street improvement will take into account all users. This includes people driving cars, riding bikes, walking, using transit, and using wheelchairs. There is not a "one-size fits all" approach to Complete Streets. The function of the road (e.g. local, collector, and arterial) and the level of vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic will be considered. The use of the land next to the road (e.g. residential or commercial) will also be considered to determine the best range of options for each situation.
Traffic Calming Measure Request Process
Requests can be made through 311, letter from the Neighborhood Association (NA), Home Owner Association (HOA), City Council office, etc.
- If a study is required, all necessary data will be collected.
- Public Works will submit proposed treatments to the San Antonio Fire and Police Departments, VIA and local schools for their review and comments as needed.
- Public Works staff will provide the requestor(s) with study results, final recommended measures and estimated costs.
- Public Works staff will provide the appropriate Council office with recommendations and estimated costs for their consideration of funding.
- Once funding has been identified, detailed design plans will be prepared.
- Adjacent property owners must agree when the proposed measures involves limiting access to their property. The proposed measure will not proceed without the consent of the property owners.
*See Traffic Calming Measure Request Chart
NOTE: Some traffic calming measures may require a Neighborhood Association Landscape Maintenance Agreement
Investment Cost and Implementation
Approximate costs for implementing each of the traffic calming measures is provided on page 33. It is important to note that implementation costs may differ from one location to another, and may be less expensive when integrated as neighborhoods are being developed. Utility relocations or right-of-way requirements may impact the cost of each traffic calming measure and implementation may not be cost effective. Traffic calming measures that include landscaping will also require a continual commitment between the City of San Antonio and neighborhood associations to maintain and irrigate vegetation.
If a traffic study for a neighborhood is completed, the results will be developed into a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan (NTMP). The NTMP will recommend traffic calming measures. However, the implementation of the plan may not occur if:
- The San Antonio Fire and Police Departments do not approve the measure because of the impact to emergency response,
- placement of the measure could negatively impact public safety,
- existing right-of-way is not available for the selected measure,
- conflict with existing utilities, or
- adjacent property owners do not support the proposed measure.
Measures of Effectiveness
The various traffic calming measures can help decrease operating speeds, traffic volumes and/or accident problems. Typically measures that are viewed as successful by residents are those that provide better conditions for neighborhood living such as slower speeds or lower traffic volumes. In this handbook, the positive impact of each measure is based on a four-star scale, with four stars indicating the best results. The bottom of each page includes a scale that rates the reduction of speed, reduction of traffic volume, safety enhancement and projected maintenance for each measure.
Reduced Speed – Measures that keep operating speeds at or below the lawful speed will have more stars than measures that have little or no impact on operating speeds.
Reduced Traffic Volume – Measures that have a greater impact on reducing the volume of traffic will have more stars than measures which have no impact on reducing traffic volumes.
Enhanced Safety – Measures which have the potential to reduce crashes will have more stars than measures which would not necessarily reduce crash potential.
Projected Maintenance – Most traffic calming measures will require some level of maintenance depending on the level of use, weather, stability of soil, material and/or weight of the vehicle traffic. Measures which require little to no maintenance will have more stars than measures which require frequent maintenance or replacement.
At least two-thirds of the property owners on the specified street who respond must agree on the type of traffic calming measure. For partial or full street closures, 100% consensus is required from the adjacent property owners. Placement of mid-block traffic calming measures will depend on the cooperation of the adjacent property owners.
Any necessary maintenance on traffic improvements will be the responsibility of the City with the exception of any landscaping that is installed as a result of the measure. All landscaping will be maintained by the neighborhood. The authorized representative of the neighborhood group must sign and maintain a current Neighborhood Association Landscape Maintenance Agreement. Installation of signs and vegetation must conform to the requirements of the Clear Vision Area ordinance. All landscaping must be reviewed and approved by the City Arborist and the Department of Public Works. Low maintenance vegetation is strongly recommended. Suggested low maintenance plants and grasses can be found at such sites as www.saws.org.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Within ninety days after installation of the measure, Public Works may begin evaluation of the measure, including residents' and motorists' reaction, field observations, traffic counts, speed studies and other data collection as needed. Any data collection needed for these purposes will not be charged to the neighborhood. If a project has not met its objectives, additional needs or changes can be considered. A measure not fully meeting its objectives does not automatically justify removal.
Removal of an Improvement
If the Department of Public Works determines that a measure needs to be removed for health or safety reasons, the department shall proceed to remove or modify the installation after notifying the neighborhood representatives. If the neighborhood itself decides that a traffic calming measure should be removed or significantly altered, the neighborhood must furnish petitions and signatures of more than 67 percent of households and businesses in support of the removal or alteration. The neighborhood may also be required to fund the removal or alteration of the measure.
Traffic Calming Measure Request Chart
Disclaimer: This handbook is intended as a guidance only. There are City ordinances which authorize what can be constructed in the right-of-way. The Department of Public Works is accountable for determining what can be constructed in the right-of-way to ensure the welfare and safety of all users. Citizen requests that do not meet all traffic calming requirements as identified In this handbook may be denied.
Disclaimer: Table is based on Fiscal Year 2011 cost estimates. Current costs may vary due to inflation and increased materials and construction costs.