Austin Transportation’s Speed Management Program works to improve safety and enhance the livability of Austin streets through context-appropriate speed reduction strategies. The program’s objectives to reduce egregious speeding on all street levels and the likelihood of serious injury and fatal crashes support the City’s Vision Zero goal. Austin Transportation is pursuing two concurrent initiatives that make up the Speed Management program:
- Speed limit changes: Austin Transportation conducts citywide review of existing speed limits using data and applicable engineering studies to recommend changes or reductions in speed limits, where appropriate.
- Traffic calming treatments: Austin Transportation uses a multi-step data-driven process to select priority street segments and construct cost-effective engineering treatments that support reduced roadway speeds.
Why Speed Management is important
Speeding is the primary contributing factor in one quarter of Austin traffic fatality crashes. Each year more than 10,000 people lose their lives to speed-related crashes in the United States. In Austin, data shows speeding was the primary contributing factor in 24% of traffic crashes resulting in death between 2013-2017. This makes it the top one of the four behaviors which contribute to most of the fatal crashes in Austin (along with failure to yield, distraction, and intoxication).
Effective speed management is critical for creating streets that support safe and convenient travel by everyone—whether they are in cars, on bicycles, walking or using assisted mobility devices. People get around Austin in different ways (sometimes on the same trip); by implementing intuitive, context-sensitive speed management strategies, the Austin community can enable safe and convenient travel for all.
Speed management is also a critical focus area to achieve our community’s safety goals. Throughout the years, Austin City Council has indicated safety as a priority in Imagine Austin, Austin Strategic Direction 2023, and the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan and continues to work towards our Vision Zero goal of reaching zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
- Speed limit changes
Based on a comprehensive traffic engineering study, the City Traffic Engineer determined safe and prudent roadway speeds on a wide range of roadways in Austin. The speed limit strategy is outlined in three parts:
- Neighborhood Streets – streets which are approximately 36 feet or less in width and have primarily front-facing residential land uses will be posted at 25MPH. Some neighborhood streets wider than 36 feet will also have reduced posted speed limits.
- Urban Core Arterials – most major arterial streets (Level 3 ASMP streets) within the city urban core bounded by US 183, SH 71, and Loop 1, will be posted at 35MPH or less, with a few exceptions.
- Downtown Streets – most streets within the area bounded by N. Lamar Blvd., Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, I-35, and Lady Bird Lake will be posted at 25MPH. Guadalupe St., Lavaca St., MLK Jr. Blvd., 15th St., Cesar Chavez St., and Lamar Blvd. will be posted at 30MPH.
Austin Transportation has created an interactive map of the speed limit changes for the public to review. Some speed limit changes may be accompanied by other roadway treatments like restriping to narrower lane widths or assignment of portions of the street for alternative uses such as biking or parking uses to create a space more conducive to lower speeds.
Please review the full speed limit presentation for additional details.
- City Council meeting ordinance approval (June 11, 2020)
- View the Mobility committee briefing and discussion (May 28, 2020)
- Watch staff present to the Urban Transportation Commission on recommended speed limit modifications for urban core, residential, and downtown. (May 15, 2020)
- Read the recommended speed limit modifications for urban core, residential and downtown streets. (May 15, 2020)
- Traffic calming treatments
The new methodology for selecting traffic calming treatments uses a data-informed, equity-focused approach which considers crash history, characteristics of individual streets and surrounding neighborhoods, and speed data to proactively identify residential streets for potential speed mitigation interventions. Staff developed this new approach based on knowledge gained and feedback received through the following:
- the prior Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) Program,
- input from over 1,100 Austinites during a public engagement process in summer/fall 2019, and
- staff’s research on national best practices and emerging academic research which clarifies the impact of speed on safety outcomes and quality of life.
This methodology has been applied to all Level 1 and Level 2 streets in Austin (similar to “residential” and “collector” streets, respectively) as classified in the ASMP.
More information on the methodology used for selecting streets for traffic calming treatments is found below.
Project selection and implementation
Austin Transportation has selected a list of 14 projects for implementation starting in winter 2020. These projects are anticipated to be completed by the end of calendar year 2021.
- Springdale Road (D1) – Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
- Briarcliff Boulevard (D4) – Cameron Road to Berkman Drive
- Rosewood Avenue (D1) – E 11th Street to Webberville Road
- Bolm Road (D3) – Springdale Road to Shady Lane
- Webberville Road (D1) – Springdale Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
- Crystalbrook Drive (D1) – Loyola Lane to Pecan Brook Drive
- Blessing Avenue (D4) – Atkinson Road to E Anderson Lane
- Heflin Lane (D1) – Springdale Road to Webberville Road
- Colony Park Drive (D1) – Loyola Lane to Ritchie Drive
- Powell Lane (D4) – Georgian Drive to IH-35
- Peppertree Parkway (D2) – E Stassney Lane to Teri Road
- Blue Meadow Drive (D2) – Bluff Springs Road to Meadow Lake Boulevard
- Palace Parkway (D5/D2) – W Slaughter Lane to W Dittmar Road
- Abilene Trail (D8) – Convict Hill Road to Beckett Road
Austin Transportation developed a Traffic Calming Toolkit, a toolbox of speed mitigation strategies and treatments that may be applied in isolation or in combination with other treatments to achieve speed reduction on Austin’s Level 1 and 2 streets.
Austin Transportation will develop scopes of work and engineering designs for the selected streets over the next several months. The goal is to propose treatments that are context sensitive and cost effective so that the program can implement the largest number of projects with currently available funds. Austin Transportation will communicate with neighborhoods, residents, and other stakeholders to present additional details on treatments, timeline for implementation, etc., and seek additional input.
- Read the Speed Limit Changes and Speed Management Program Update (Oct. 2, 2020)
- Read the Speed Management Program Development Update (Sept. 18, 2019)
- Read about the draft framework of the Speed Management Program and next steps. (June 24, 2019)
- Traffic calming methodology
The new traffic calming methodology takes a proactive approach to analyze speeding citywide and identify streets that should be studied for potential speeding issues based on objective criteria. The program methodology includes three steps:
Step 1 - Citywide screening to select speed study locations
All Level 1 and Level 2 streets underwent an initial scoring based on Crash History and Community Context factors to determine which streets should be prioritized for further investigation of potential speeding issues. Criteria for the Step 1 scoring included the following:
Crash History score:
- Based on the number of crashes occurring within the past five years at a location, with additional weight given to crashes resulting in injuries or involving vulnerable users.
Community Context score:
- Existing sidewalks (i.e., more points if sidewalks are missing)
- Existing or planned bicycle facilities (i.e., more points if bicycle use is expected)
- Proximity to Transit Priority Network or Imagine Austin Corridors
- Proximity to community destinations (e.g., schools, parks, and libraries)
- Census tract percentage of population other than Non-Hispanic White
- Census tract percentage of people in poverty
The Step 1 analysis resulted in streets being scored relative to each other based on crash history and community context.
Step 2 - Collect speed data and conduct detailed review
A total of 150 streets were identified for data collection. Austin Transportation staff reviewed the top scoring street segments from Step 1 and performed speed data collection on the highest scoring 60 streets citywide. An additional 60 streets were incorporated for speed data collection based on input received in recent years from the community about perceived speeding issues. Staff also included data from the top 30 streets based on highest documented speeds from applications from the Local Area Traffic Management program, which predated the Speed Management program
Speed data was collected on the selected streets in winter 2019-2020. The data collected provided information on the distribution of observed speeds, including average speeds and the number of vehicles speeding. This demonstrated cases of egregious speeding patterns. The 85th percentile speed (the speed at which 85% of cars were observed to be travelling at or below) value was used as the Speed Score to each studied street.
Using minimum thresholds of 15 points for Step 1 scores and 33 mph for Speed Scores, the top 15 residential streets and top 5 collector streets with the highest Combined Scores (i.e., Crash History Score + Community Context Score + Speed Score) advanced to Step 3 to be considered for potential speed mitigation projects.
Step 3 - Expert panel review and project selection
A panel of experts from ATD’s engineering and Vision Zero teams performed a detailed analysis of the 20 streets advanced from Step 2. The panel considered all available information and included additional street or area context (e.g., on-street/occupied parking, street width, and driveway density), all documented crashes, travel patterns, other City of Austin work planned for the area, and the balance between Step 1 criteria and documented excessive speeds. Based on this review, available funding, and program resources, project locations were selected for speed mitigation treatments to be implemented by the Speed Management Program for the first round of program funding. Final projects are subject to change based on field constructability, final construction cost, or other engineering determinations. Individual scopes of work for each selected street will be determined based on ATD’s understanding of current and emerging best practices for speed reduction strategies.
A comprehensive inventory of such treatments are cataloged in the recently developed Traffic Calming Toolkit.
- Speed management resources
“Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles,” National Transportation Safety Board (2017) “Achieving Multimodal Networks,” Federal Highway Administration
- “Where modes come together, the design should eliminate conflicts to the greatest extent possible. If it is not feasible to eliminate the conflict entirely, designers should minimize the speed differential between modes to ensure that if a crash occurs, the severity of the injury is likely to be lower...Designers have the flexibility to set design speeds lower than the posted speed limit.”
Urban Street Design Guide, National Association of City Transportation Officials
- “There is a direct correlation between higher speeds, crash risk, and the severity of injuries... Design streets using target speed, the speed you intend for drivers to go, rather than operating speed. The 85th percentile of observed target speeds should fall between 10–30 mph on most urban streets.”
- Speeding Emphasis Area: Strategy #1 - Use the concept of establishing target speed limits and road characteristics to reduce speeding.
“Speeding Away from 0: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge," Governor’s Highway Safety Association “Expert System for Recommending Speed Limits in Speed Zones,” National Cooperative Highway Research Program “USLIMITS2,” Federal Highway Administration
How do I determine the relative priority of my street?
Use the Speed Management Program web map to search for any residential street you are interested in. The gradient of scores is determined by the Crash History and Community Context scores and are represented by different colors in the map legend. You can navigate within the map or use the search bar in the top right corner of the screen to search by street name. You may call Austin 3-1-1 to place a customer service request for staff to provide more information.
How do I find my street's score?
Within the map, streets are broken into smaller segments to capture Crash History and Community Context scores for individual street segments and intersections. By clicking on a segment or intersection in the map, you can see the Crash History score, Community Context score and, if your street was selected to receive a speed data collection, the observed speed data for that street. Please reference the methodology description above to understand how individual scores are only used to guide relative priority, which were then used for next steps in the analysis.
Why does my street have a few different colored segments?
Austin Transportation staff used crash data in conjunction with community context factors to score individual locations along a street to account for different conditions along the length of the street. If a particular section of a street had a higher incidence of crashes, for example, it will have a higher Crash History Score than other nearby segments with no crash history. Austin Transportation staff considered the highest scoring segments as well as the distribution of scores for adjacent segments when selecting streets for speed studies.
My street ranked high but was not selected for a speed study. Why?
Based on available resources, Austin Transportation staff studied the higher scoring 150 streets for the initial round of project selection. High ranking locations that were not studied in the initial program scoring process will be prioritized for study in future data collection opportunities.
What if my street does not rank high? Does that mean that my street will not be considered for speed mitigation?
If your street does not currently rank high, it does not reflect whether speeding is occurring or not. It does mean that based on the crashes that have occurred and the context of the street and surrounding area, other locations in Austin were identified as having a higher need to be studied first. Due to the high demand for speed mitigation across the city it is unlikely that Speed Management Program funds will be used for projects on streets that do not currently rank high. Other City programs, however, may pursue street improvements that also have a speed mitigation benefit, such as pedestrian crossings, lane width reductions, bicycle facilities, storm water management, and more.
Based on the citywide rankings, my street does not qualify for Speed Management Program funding at this time. Is there anything else that can be done to address speeding?
In addition to the engineering treatments funded by the Speed Management Program, Austin Transportation works on citywide education and enforcement initiatives as well as speed limit changes to address the systemic problem of speed. Staff can coordinate installation of Vision Zero yard signs, non-construction signs and markings improvements, and speed enforcement from the Austin Police Department. Austin Transportation has a limited fleet of Dynamic Speed Display Devices (DSDDs) that can be deployed on a rotating basis, on qualifying streets to provide driver feedback. These units are left in place for 4 to 6 weeks at a time to collect spot speed data and provide ongoing speed monitoring.
- You can request a Vision Zero yard sign by contacting VisionZero@AustinTexas.gov.
- You can contact your Austin Police Department district representatives for questions or comments regarding speeding enforcement.
How often will Austin Transportation re-rank streets with new data?
We recognize that, in a fast growing city like Austin, the context and conditions of each street can change rapidly. The initial rankings represent a point-in-time list of prioritized streets; those which are not chosen for the initial set of speed mitigation projects will be considered for future speeding mitigation based on program funding at that time. Streets will be re-scored annually with new crash data and community context information and, as resources and a return to typical traffic conditions allow, additional speed data collection on new street segments will be conducted. Based on this information and available resources, additional high ranking locations may be selected for project implementation subject to future funding.
Can my neighborhood association/business/etc. contribute funds for speed mitigation devices, particularly for streets not highly ranked?
While Austin Transportation recognizes that documented or perceived speeding may be occurring in many locations throughout the City, the new program does not accept outside funding at this time. We anticipate reviewing this position in the future once the program has been established, including exploring what mechanisms and resources would be needed to receive funds and implement projects on streets that meet certain criteria and have a demonstrated speed issue.
I previously submitted an application for the Local Area Traffic Management Program (LATM). How will my previous request be considered?
The new Speed Management Program reorients the City’s approach to speed management away from the request-based framework of the former LATM program and towards a more proactive approach that identifies streets with potential speeding problems based on objective criteria. This approach will lead to a more equitable distribution of City resources to help address speeding throughout Austin. That said, given the great demand for speed mitigation seen through the previous LATM program, Austin Transportation did consider the LATM applications with the highest 30 speeds collected for this first iteration of the new program scoring. These streets were scored and ranked alongside all other studied streets, with no extra points given based on their prior LATM status. The information collected from studying these additional streets will also aid staff in future refinements on the program’s criteria.
I have concerns of speeding on my street. How can I provide input?
Please feel free to submit your concerns related to speeding by contacting Austin 3-1-1.
Austin Transportation staff will receive the request and evaluate your request to determine where your street segment falls. If the street segment is highly ranked and valid speed data does not exist, staff may request speed data collection to further ascertain if the street segment merits further consideration for receiving speed mitigation treatments. Speed data collection and selection of streets for speed mitigation treatments are subject to availability of program funds.