Albuquerque experiments with cheap road bumps to help slow neighborhood traffic

Traffic and Roads

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A series of solid road bumps that the city added to a downtown area intersection represent a new way of trying to slow drivers down. Officially called “raised pavement markers,” the bumps are designed to give drivers a jolt when run over, letting drivers know when they’ve veered out of their lane.

“If you hit one, it’s on you,” said Johnny Chandler, spokesman for the city of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development. “You will feel it.”

While it’s old technology, the markers are central to a new kind of traffic control experiment the city is considering trying in more places. The markers were recently glued to an intersection near the Country Club neighborhood, where 15th Street meets Gold and Raynolds streets.

After several neighbors reported fast drivers at the three-street intersection, the city recently installed the markers several feet from the edge of the road. With the potential of rattling a car with an uncomfortable bump if they’re run over, the city says it hopes the new bumps slow drivers down and keep them from cutting corners in a neighborhood that’s popular with bike and foot traffic.

“Maybe change some driver behavior, make the residents feel safer walking around, get the bicyclists to ride through the neighborhood a little bit more,” Chandler said. “This is the idea of what Vision Zero can bring.”

Chandler says the project is in line with Albuquerque’s Vision Zero traffic plan. A national campaign, Vision Zero is aimed at preventing pedestrian and cycling deaths. It is a driving force Chandler says in pushing the city to experiment with quick, affordable roadway changes.

“Anywhere that we have these (areas where RPMs may help,) we’re not spending over 2000 dollars to try to get these things taken care of,” Chandler said. “The idea behind these is they’re inexpensive to install.”

In comparison, the city has spent roughly $500,000 to install more than a mile of pin curbs along the ART bus lines on Central. That project is also permanent, while RPMs can be installed, removed, and replaced quickly.

RPMs are nothing new in many American cities, often used to help corral traffic. However, they’ve rarely been used in Albuquerque, let alone neighborhoods. The roughly $1,000 project is one of around just three spots in the city with dome-like bumps.

“Low cost, effective and quick solutions,” Chandler said. “This is exactly what we can expect to see more of, and we hope that it works.”

The Municipal Development Department says because this solution is relatively affordable and easy to install, the department did not require a drawn-out traffic study before installing it. Two other intersections where the city has installed RPMs include Dover near McMahon in northwest Albuquerque and Ouray west of Coors Boulevard near I-40.

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