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The Area Traffic Management Process

Getting Started

1. ATM Project ScreeningArea Traffic Management Flow Chart

Any neighbourhood traffic issue that cannot be resolved quickly through simple operational measures will be moved forward to be screened for an Area Traffic Management (ATM) study. There is significant demand for these studies and requests are prioritized and categorized into requiring either localized or comprehensive studies.

2. Screening Process

In order to ensure that the City's resources are concentrated on the most significant concerns, and to ensure that the number of projects is manageable in relation to program resources, requests will undergo an initial screening process involving two steps that must be satisfied before being considered for a potential Area Traffic Management (ATM) project. The screening process is used to concentrate resources on the most significant concerns, and to generate a manageable number of projects to carry forward for study and possible measure implementation.

Once a request is submitted by a neighbourhood or group, the assigned City staff will conduct a site visit and undertake the screening process. The first step in the screening process is the collection of data. Data will be collected by City staff in order to maintain consistency in data collection methods and the quality of the data. Collected data could include:

  • Collision data – to determine the rate of collision on a segment of roadway or intersection and to identify if any of these collisions involved people cycling or walking. Typically, the most recently available three year's worth of collision data is used.
  • Speed surveys – to determine operating speeds of people driving on the roadway. Specifically, the 85th and 95th percentile speeds are compiled and reviewed. The calculated 85th percentile speed is the speed at, or below, which 85 per cent of drivers travel. Speed data can be collected by automatic traffic recording devices or by manual spot speed surveys using a speed gun.
  • Volume counts – to determine the average annual daily traffic volumes as well as the peak hour volumes on the roadway. Volume surveys can be conducted with:
    • Automatic traffic recorders or intersection turning movement counters.
    • Through traffic observations – to distinguish local traffic (with an origin or destination within the community)
  • Inappropriate driver behaviour reports - to determine driver behaviour issues by reviewing traffic related complaints directed to the City through 3-1-1, calls to the Police for traffic enforcement, and traffic violations documented by provincial offence notices.
  • Pedestrian facilities documentation – to determine the adequacy of existing pedestrian facilities such as the number and/or location of existing sidewalks
  • Adjacent land use documentation – to identify the character and composition of the neighbourhood by the roadway's abutting land use including the identification of potential locations for vulnerable street users such as schools, parks and community centres. Land use categories include residential, commercial, industrial, and pedestrian oriented retail.

The next step in the screening process is to compare the collected data to the established criteria.

Passing the Screening Process - a request is considered to have passed the screening process if one of the following two conditions has been met:

  • A serious collision on the roadway involving a person who is a vulnerable street user (i.e. pedestrian or cyclist) has occurred within the last three years.
  • OR
  • At least one of the Context Criteria and at least two of the Traffic Criteria have been met (see below for criteria details).

Context Criteria include:

  • Locations for vulnerable street users such as parks, schools, community centres, childcare centres or seniors' residences
  • Adjacent land use is primarily residential or pedestrian-oriented retail
  • Pedestrian activities levels are not adequately served by current facilities such as sidewalks

Traffic Criteria include:

  • Clear evidence of inappropriate driver behaviour characterized by a history of complaints and verified through enforcement efforts.
  • Significant motorized vehicle speeds demonstrated by:
    • 85th percentile speeds in excess of 50 km/h or
    • 95th percentile speeds in excess of 60 km/h.

Note: calculations are adjusted for roadways where the posted speed limit is higher than 50 km/h.

  • Significant average daily motorized traffic volumes demonstrated by:
    • at least 1000 vehicles per day or 120 vehicles per peak hour, if the street is classified as a local roadway
    • 2500 vehicles per day or 300 vehicles per peak hour, if the street is a collector roadway
    • 5000 vehicles per day or 600 vehicles per peak hour, if the street is a major collector roadway.

Note: this criteria does not apply to arterial roadways

  • Significant motorized vehicle through traffic volumes demonstrated by this type of traffic exceeding 20 per cent of the total traffic volume. Note that people driving to schools, daycare facilities or frequenting businesses on the roadway are not considered through traffic. In addition, this criteria does not apply to arterial roadways.
  • Above the average rate of collisions for similar roadways involving people who drive, walk or cycle.

3. Submission of Request

If your traffic issue has passed the screening process, an application package will be forwarded to you. The package requires the following information to ensure that others on the street or in the area share the traffic concerns:

  • Groups representing at least 10 households or businesses OR a minimum of 25 per cent of households/businesses on the affected street/area
  • The Councillor of an affected ward


  • The community association, school council, or business association for the area

If initial requests do not satisfy this requirement, they will be returned to the original requestor noting that broader support is required.

4. Categorize Projects

Projects will be categorized to ensure they are studied in the most appropriate manner. Projects are categorized as requiring either localized or comprehensive studies, with the latter considered being the more significant undertaking.

Staff will categorize a project as either localized or comprehensive study based on the identified concerns and the general criteria listed below.

Localized Studies:

  • One or a couple of streets at most, are affected. A segment, rather than the entire length of the street, may be studied.
  • The affected streets are local, collector or major collector
  • There is a single, clearly defined problem with limited potential for expansion of the problem or study area
  • There are few or mild competing interests
  • The nature of the solution(s) can be reasonably anticipated
  • The time and effort to conduct the project are expected to be limited

Comprehensive Studies:

  • A number of streets or an entire neighbourhood is affected
  • Affected streets may include arterials
  • There are a number of concerns, perhaps poorly-defined, with potential for expansion
  • There are many or severe competing interests
  • Possible solutions are numerous, or not apparent
  • The time and effort to conduct the project are expected to be significant

5. Prioritization of Studies

New requests for studies will be prioritized against current and backlogged requests, identifying those that could be implemented within a few years. Note that the study list identifies priorities based on current demands, but is subject to change when councillors and/or members of the public bring new requests forward.

Both localized studies and comprehensive studies are ranked using the same criteria and the same types of data sources as described in the above-noted Screening Process. Data is evaluated and points are awarded which reflect the severity of each of the potential traffic issues. Arterial roads have a modified points system as the role of these roadways is to carry significant volumes of traffic and, therefore, points are not assigned for volume and through traffic criteria.

Because comprehensive studies will proceed independently of the localized studies, they will be prioritized separately. Often comprehensive studies involve evaluating more than one roadway when dealing with both screening and prioritizing the request and, as such, will recognize the roadway with the most severe traffic issues for ranking purposes. The highest ranking studies will be initiated first as resources are available.

The number of localized and comprehensive studies conducted will correspond with the resources available to conduct the planning phase and with the City's expected ability to fund the implementation of the studies approved measures.

The Study

6. Detailed Data Collection

Data needs for studies must be appropriate to the nature of the problem and must be comprehensive enough to ensure all issues and potential impacts are considered. Study requirement data can be categorized according to whether it deals with area characteristics or with traffic characteristics.

Traffic Characteristic Data - for traffic data, specific data parameters are defined that indicate minimum thresholds for each type of dataset. Determining what data is to be used for a study will be based on the nature of the study, the problem to be addressed and the professional judgment of project staff.

Examples of typical traffic data have already been described in the Screening Process. Detailed traffic data can also include additional items, such as:

  • Pedestrian and cyclist volumes, to determine frequency, location, and potential conflicts
  • Motor vehicle classifications
  • On-street parking inventory to identify supply, demand, and restrictions
  • Noise and vibration levels to determine secondary traffic impacts
  • Street capacity to determine problem areas and opportunities or constraints.

Area Characteristic Data - examples of typical area data have already been described in the Screening Process, but detailed area data can also include many additional items such as:

  • Street classification
  • Street cross-sections indicating widths of travel lanes
  • Turn lanes
  • Parking, sidewalks and buffer or planting strips
  • Diagrams of critical intersections including widths or other information
  • Curve radii
  • Tangent length
  • Block length
  • Notable grades
  • Type of curb and height
  • Pavement markings inventory
  • Sight distances
  • Base mapping
  • Aerial photography/orthophotos
  • School catchment areas and enrolment
  • Catchbasin and maintenance hole locations
  • Notable utility locations
  • Posted speed limit
  • Sign inventory
  • Bicycle facilities inventory
  • Pedestrian facilities inventory
  • Trees and notable landscaping features
  • Building setbacks
  • Number, location and width of driveways
  • Location of child care centres, schools, and senior's residences and associated loading areas
  • Emergency response routes
  • Truck routes
  • Principal access routes for major area land uses
  • Transit routes/schedule
  • Information/location of transit stops
  • Existing area traffic management measures

7. Identify Stakeholders

Localized study stakeholders will include those residents or groups on the subject roadway and original ATM petition, community residents, affected City departments, schools, businesses and other groups.

Comprehensive studies address the more complex traffic issues and as a result require greater levels of public participation. This could include:

  • Public Advisory Committee (PAC) - Potential stakeholders that could form a public advisory committee could include residents (both homeowners and renters), community associations, school boards, local merchants, pedestrian and bicycle advocates, transit users, parent groups, schools and community centres or service groups.
  • Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) - A Technical Advisory Committee would consist of technical City and agency staff as appropriate to the nature of the project. TAC membership can include a variety of groups, such as: Transit Service and Maintenance, Police Services, Pedestrian and Cycling Program, Development Approvals, etc.

8. Project Kick-off Meeting

The project kick-off meeting is focused on confirming the draft problem statement and introducing citizens to the ATM process. The project kick-off meeting could include an optional pre-meeting walkabout.

9. Neighbourhood Workshop

A neighborhood workshop is an optional step for Comprehensive studies that may be requested by the community during the project kick-off meeting.

It is a focused and intense interactive work session with the public to encourage their interaction through a variety of activities. The workshop would provide the participants with an opportunity to identify potential measures and to develop alternative solutions.

10. Develop Alternative Solutions

City staff will attempt to develop more than one solution package or design option. Typically, in addition to a status quo option, a variety of options will be presented in order to demonstrate the widest number of potential solutions for consideration.

11. Analyse and Evaluate Alternatives

The ATM alternatives are analyzed and evaluated using criteria that consider three basic aspects:

  • Benefits that will result from the solution
  • Secondary impacts associated with the solution
  • Cost of the solution both capital and operating/maintenance costs.

Benefits are the positive features associated with the solution, while the secondary impacts are the negative features that result from the solution. The overall purpose of the analysis and evaluation is to select a solution that maximizes the benefits while minimizing the secondary impacts and costs.

The evaluation should also include a status quo option, to assess whether the overall effect of the proposed solutions are better than the existing situation.

Typical evaluation procedures regarding a proposed design alternative include potentially addressing the following:

  • Effectiveness in solving the speed, volume, or driver behaviour problem
  • Associated community traffic effects such as traffic diversion, community accessibility or parking availability
  • Pedestrian or cycling issues such as crossing conflicts
  • Impact on emergency vehicle and transit operations
  • Noise and vibration possibilities
  • Effect on collision rates; vehicular user effects
  • Impact on the natural environment
  • Resulting urban environment aesthetic
  • The capital, operational, maintenance, and enforcement cost of the proposed measure(s).

For Comprehensive studies, a meeting with the PAC and TAC will be held following development of a draft set of alternatives/design options and a preliminary evaluation thereof. Based on resulting comments, staff will revise the alternatives, as appropriate and advance their evaluations in preparation for the Open House meeting.

12. Open House Meeting

The recommended conceptual plan and preliminary cost estimate will be presented to the neighbourhood in a public meeting in order to collect their feedback.

13. Approval and Study Report

A report will be prepared that documents the study process and its resulting recommendations as well as an overview of the intended implementation of the recommended measures.

Approval of localized studies will follow the City of Ottawa's current delegated authority process.

Comprehensive studies will normally require approval by City Council, on the recommendation of the Transportation Committee.


14. Prioritization of Measures for Implementation

The order in which approved measures will be implemented will be based on their priority, ranking and implementation costs.

The actual timing of implementation will depend on available resources and budgets. The City will consider adjusting the priority and delaying or advancing the timing of implementation depending on the cost and effectiveness of the measures and the potential to achieve a more effective implementation program in any given year.

Approved measures from area traffic management (ATM) studies that can be incorporated into road reconstruction projects will not be subject to the prioritization process but will proceed directly with the reconstruction to take advantage of cost efficiencies. Likewise, highly ranked measures may be delayed to coincide with planned reconstruction schedules.

15. Implementation

Measures will be designed and constructed in accordance with the ATM Guidelines and other relevant City and Provincial standards and specifications, such as minimum sidewalk widths and warrants for stop signs and traffic signals.

Projects may be implemented on a staged basis especially if the set of measures and the associated cost is substantial. Staging plans should recognize that preserving the effectiveness of overall plans could require the appropriate grouping of measures.

16. Monitoring and Evaluation

Implemented measures will be monitored and evaluated. Sufficient data will be collected to assess the level of improvement that the project has achieved. This typically will involve the collection of traffic speed and volume data, and may be expanded to include other indicators such as noise and vibrations, if the project measures were intended to achieve improvement in these areas. A public survey may also be undertaken. ATM staff may seek out specific departments or expertise to comment on projects as appropriate. Potential staff reviewers may include, but are not limited to, the following groups or departments: fire, police, urban design, utilities, traffic, maintenance and transit. Collision rates and patterns will be reviewed and compared with pre-installation experiences.

Evaluations may recommend adjustments to the original plan, if concerns have not been adequately addressed or if unacceptable secondary impacts have occurred as a result of implemented measures.