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Author: Andy Boenau

The State doesn’t care if you live or die

Our government rulers aren’t as caring and thoughtful as they pretend. In fact, the State doesn’t care if you live or die.

This isn’t hyperbole.

Planners and engineers typically follow the direction of the local authorities. And as anyone who follows VisionZero knows, authorities have plenty of tools and resources to save your loved ones.

There’s no excuse for having the equivalent of a 9/11 every month in America.

The not-so-secret War on Cars

The war on cars is real. In fact, it’s such a big deal that we should probably capitalize it.

The War on Cars is real, and there are far more victims (and costs) than you probably considered.

Vision Zero has a visibility problem (and I have the solution)

Here’s a math problem I solved tonight.

Neon clothes : Vision Zero :: deck chair rearranging : Titanic

High visibility gear isn’t bad. Construction workers on highways need it because motorists aren’t expecting a human being to be near 70 MPH traffic. But bright colors aren’t the way to change driver behavior. Engineering methodology is the way to save (or kill) Americans. If motorists drive according to the conditions of an urbanized street, clothing shouldn’t be a factor.

Traffic calming is the worst form of design ever!

 

Traffic calming gets neighbors fired up as much as the trash service changing their schedule unannounced.

Traffic calming exists to help you, the human being. When a local government builds something that’s a little calmy, it might not slow down vehicles as intended. Depending on the location, you might need much more than one little calming ingredient.

Check this site out for detailed information about how traffic calming improves walking and bicycling conditions: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/planning/facilities.cfm.

And check this site out for design ideas: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/traffic_calm.cfm.

Painted bike lanes, the magic safety solution!

We’ve done it! Americans have solved the bicycle safety dilemma!

Ok, not really. But you’d think so, the way painted bike lanes keep springing up across cities.

Look, I like bright green bike lanes. A lot. But green lanes don’t make up for street networks that are still engineered for one purpose: speedy car traffic.

Repurpose all that public space for humans. Then celebrate with buckets of green paint.

Why you WANT a bad grade from traffic engineers

More Level of Service? Yup. It’s an important topic for people to understand.

File this under “know your rights”.

Level of Service is a way transportation planners and engineers decide if a street is big enough for speeding cars. It’s actually a terrific model for measuring speed. Level of Service A means speedy car traffic and terrifying walking conditions.

The Level of Service grades are NOT like school grades! That’s tricky, I know. It’s quite intentional. The creators had highways in mind and they WANTED you to compare the grades to what you expect in school.

But there’s hope. You DO NOT NEED to be stuck with Level of Service metrics. The big authorities — US Dept of Transportation and AASHTO — say that urbanized areas should be designed for grades of D and E.

Remember this: the Level of Service grades are NOT like school grades!

How to Get Away with Murder: Chapter 1, Level of Service

Level of Service is one of the many tools that professionals destroy life and property. It’s an engineering tool that measures car delay at intersections. If you wait a few seconds at a red light, that’s considered fine. If you have to wait a minute, then that means the taxpayers need to fork over millions to build additional lanes.

Level of Service is a ridiculous way to measure the success of a street. It does not consider the safety and comfort of anyone outside of an automobile.

If a street is deadly to walk across but has very little congestion? That’s a successful street! (According to the experts, not people with common sense.)

You need to fight against Level of Service. It’s destroying communities.

How wide should traffic lanes be?

Wider lanes = faster traffic = more danger for everyone.

How wide are car lanes? They’re usually 12 feet wide. Turns out that’s a nice width for you to be able to drive with your knees, maybe hold a burger in one hand and your phone in the other.

Wide lanes make it easy for motorists to get distracted. Billboards about texting while driving aren’t going to get a driver’s attention — they’re too busy scanning their phone.

Narrower travel lanes WILL get their attention. Drivers pay more attention when they feel squeezed. That squeezing sensation makes them more cautious drivers.

It makes you a more cautious driver.

The width of car lanes is a big deal. For a deep dive, check out these links for more information about the connection between safety and the width of car lanes:

http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/10/why-12-foot-traffic-lanes-are-disastrous-for-safety-and-must-be-replaced-now/381117/

http://nacto.org/docs/usdg/lane_widths_on_safety_and_capacity_petritsch.pdf

http://www.academia.edu/12488747/Narrower_Lanes_Safer_Streets_Accepted_Paper_for_CITE_Conference_Regina_2015_

http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1085159

Transportation planners are like bad parents!

“I want it NOW NOW NOW!”

Do you cave to that sort of nonsense from your kids? No. At least I hope not. If you do, I’m going to roll my eyes and say you aren’t a great parent.

Transportation planners assume that everyone should be able to zip their cars through intersections with minimal delay. Success is measured by how fast the motorists get through.

Can you wait a sec? Nope.

“I want the green NOW NOW NOW! I want to speed!”

It’s dangerous behavior, and transportation planners keep enabling it.