In December 2013, City Council recognized the need to address frequent neighborhood concerns about traffic safety and identified funding for a halftime Neighborhood Traffic Control Coordinator to help the City respond to these concerns.
Contact: If you have a neighborhood traffic control complaint or concern, please email Kathy Robertson, Neighborhood Traffic Control Coordinator, or call her directly at (425) 587-3870.
Program: The Neighborhood Traffic Control Program (NTCP) uses a three-phase approach to calm traffic on non-arterial residential streets.
- The first phase involves low cost, easy to implement tools, such as education, pavement striping and markings, signage, and portable radar trailers - selected as appropriate to address the concern.
- The second phase involves more costly devices, such as radar speed check signs and other approaches that narrow the road and help encourage drivers to travel at the legal speed limit.
- The third phase involves restrictive devices that reduce the road periodically to one travel lane shared by both directions, create a weave pattern and/or create other obstacles that drivers must go over or around. Restrictive traffic calming devices include speed cushions, neighborhood traffic circles, traffic islands, and curb bulbs. The City implements restrictive devices only as part of a traffic plan that has strong support from local residents and key stakeholders, other less restrictive measures were tried, and these are viable solutions that address concerns.
Each phase requires a different level of community engagement. The first phase and second phases, because these do not involve restrictive devices, require contact with residents that might be directly affected by the changes. The third phase requires extensive resident and stakeholder engagement to develop a traffic calming plan, inform the community and obtain consensus.
Policy R-20 describes the processes, criteria and community outreach required for each phase.
WHAT IS TRAFFIC LIKE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD?
The City has traffic counters to collect traffic speed and volume data. Find out if traffic studies have been done in your neighborhood or on your street. If you don’t see a recent study and believe speeds are an issue in your neighborhood, contact the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Control Coordinator.
TRAFFIC CALMING TECHNIQUES
The City of Kirkland works with neighborhoods to develop traffic calming plans following the steps outlined in policy R-20. Learn more about traffic calming techniques from the Federal Highway Administration's lesson on traffic calming.
Many residents are surprised to find out that all way stops are not a traffic calming tool. This is because stop signs are used to define who has right-of-way, but not to slow traffic. When stop signs are placed at an intersection, the expectation is drivers will stop. National studies show that if traffic volumes passing through an intersection are less than 300 vehicles per hour, about half the drivers ignore the stop signs because they don’t expect to see traffic. Many people see only what they expect to see, which means when drivers actually encounter cross traffic they are surprised and not prepared. As a result, studies show that adding all-way stops to intersections with low volumes increases the risk of crashes rather than lower it. Learn more about all-way stops from the Federal Highway Administration's lesson all-way stops.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
What can each of us do to help with traffic calming? Go slow and be aware! By driving at safe speeds and staying focused on the task of driving, you help increase the livability of our neighborhoods. You'll be more aware of what's going on around you and you'll be able to react to unexpected events, making our streets safer.
When you observe speeding, contact the Kirkland Police using the 911 non-emergency number (425) 577-5656 or via email at email@example.com.
Teach your children to be streetwise. Streets are transportation corridors for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; they are not playgrounds.
WHAT SHOULDN’T YOU DO?
Please don’t try to force drivers to slow down. You can place yourself in a dangerous, hostile situation that could result in injury to yourself or others around you. Instead, contact the Kirkland Police.
Please don’t place plastic figures, signs or other objects in the public street right-of-way, including the road shoulder without approval and a permit from the City. These objects create a liability for yourself and the City, plus the Kirkland Municipal Code does not allow residents to control traffic or place anything in the City’s right-of-way unless approved by the City. Such objects or signs are a code violation and can subject you to Code Enforcement action. You should also know the City does not have to locate the owner before removing and disposing objects and signs found in the City’s right-of-way.
The best approach you can take is to practice defensive driving, walking and cycling skills, and encourage those you know to do the same. Safety is a shared responsibility. Be aware – don’t be distracted, and no matter how hurried you are, take time to travel right!