Background on Those New Stop Signs Downtown: Focus on Silver

While licking my mental wounds from blog loss this morning, here’s a little something I found pertaining to downtown Burque changes from red lights to stop signs at several junctures, particularly Silver.

It’s a memo from the traffic engineering firm Parametrix to the City of Albuquerque from June of this year. I found it via the good ‘ol Google; KRQE linked to it in a story on the changes (nice job, KRQE!, imagine that ABQ media can link to things in the online versions of your stories!).

Apologies for not having pointed this memo out sooner, but the most interesting aspect of this memo is really the subsequent work and which recommendations have and have not been followed by the City of Albuquerque. For instance, here’s a graphic showing what Parametrix advised regarding placement of stop signs and red lights in the area around Silver:


Note the recommendation is for two-way stops along the north/south streets along Silver, not four-way stops. As you can see below, at Silver and 4th, this isn’t what is being installed/tested:


In the text of the memo, Parametrix states the following for why two-way stops are recommended:

Because Silver Avenue is designated as a bicycle boulevard, the recommendation is to control these intersections with partial stop control (on the north‐south streets only).

Even as a “hard-core cycling advocate,” I can think of arguments for not following this recommendation, most pointed being the probable result of cars simply zooming down Silver. The memo notes that car traffic on Silver isn’t much now, but who knows if that might change given the Silver International Speedway status resulting from two-way stops being installed. Slowing us all down, cyclists included, downtown isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

More than anything, the Parametrix memo and resultant installation work is worth pointing out as reflection on how public policy goes from recommendation to decision-making to practice. In mentioning it here, BB isn’t saying the decision made was wrong, only that it’s interesting, in really the best and most fun objectively sense of the word, how the public policy process works.

P.S.: Just to keep the evolution from initial study to secondary study to decision-making to practice, here’s Jeff Speck 2012 downtown walkability study that first led to the ideas being enacted now:



4 thoughts on “Background on Those New Stop Signs Downtown: Focus on Silver

  1. Ack. Sucko on losing the post.

    I had similar worries when I went to the open house for the changes to Silver up the hill in Nob Hill area, and they said they were flipping all the stop signs to stop N-S traffic. At least there, they are putting in a median diverter crossing Girard, improved the one on Yale and put in a couple traffic circles (but don’t get me started on how dangerous traffic circles are for bikes). We’ll see if that keeps cars off, at any rate.

    Emailed you some measurements.


  2. Biliruben: Thanks! See you have a newly bent tape measure, too. The ability of the human heart to express pent-up aggression and feelings of perceived slights in stupid ways never ceases to amaze. Perhaps worth noting that both your/my bending occurred on streets with very wide lanes (Osuna, Alameda).

    Be safe out there, bike lane measurers.

    As for traffic circles versus other forms of diverter, I’m still trying to find “studies” to solidify a personal preference. As for the N/S stops on Silver in Nob Hill, they skipped Stanford as they went up the hill and I haven’t been back in the last few days to see if the stop sign changes are happening post-traffic circles installs and such.


  3. Harris came out with the best study I’ve seen yet, with an adjusted odds ratio of 8.0 (8 fold increased risk). She didn’t look at severity, though I seem to recall from another study that severity is lower but frequency is higher, but can’t find it right now.

    I’ve personally been hit in a traffic circle very similar to the ones going in on silver. It was pretty funny (easier to laugh when you and your bike aren’t badly hurt), because the dude who hit me was an orthopedic surgeon who gave me his card, so I got to accuse him of trying to drum up business. Reality was he was talking on his phone in his big, black ‘burban and late to pick up his son from soccer practice. I think most drivers just focus 100% on how fast they can make the gap around the circle, instead of checking for cross-traffic.

    Harris, M. A., Reynolds, C. C. O., Winters, M., Cripton, P. A., Shen, H., Chipman, M. L., … Teschke, K. (2013). Comparing the effects of infrastructure on bicycling injury at intersections and non-intersections using a case-crossover design. Injury Prevention : Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention, 19(5), 303–10.

    I will try and knock off Copper and Monte Vista today. My boy’s school is right there, so I have no excuse… but a best tape measure. 😉

    Oh, also – I saw them cutting your HAWK at Alvarado with an asphalt saw yesterday. Wanna bet if they are going to make it better or worse?


  4. Biliruben: Thanks for the study. I loves me some studies, and will get to this one today. I also “love” your traffic circle anecdote. All’s funny that ends somewhat well and all that.

    As for the HAWK, I’m very interested to hear more on what’s being done. I might be able to get out there this weekend to gaze upon the latest mighty works.

    Enjoy Copper and Monte Vista; knocking out that little stretch of Copper near Tramway was gonna be one of my very last efforts, if needed.


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