Just think about all those times when the bored of works enumerated the many splendid reasons why they couldn’t (wouldn’t) help make our streets safe.
Just think about city engineer Larry Summers’ passive-aggressive protests — but traffic flow, but INDOT, but whatever else springs to an obstructionist’s mind.
Just think about how different it would be if their first response wasn’t “here’s why we can’t and won’t help” but “we’ll find a way to help.”
Just think if the latter constituted Jeff Gahan’s instructions to pliant campaign donors like HWC Engineering, rather than deploying them to defend the car-centric status quo.
Just think if Greg Phipps had the chutzpah to disagree with his overlord to insist on making the situation better, rather than meekly accepting the status quo.
We’ll stop there. After all, “just thinking” is precisely what they’re not doing.
Seattle Tosses Out Rulebook to Protect Pedestrians, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog)
Seattle will begin adding safe crosswalks without first assessing if high numbers of pedestrians are going to use them — a direct contradiction of the nation’s road design Bible.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices states that before communities can add a signalized crosswalk — a crosswalk with a traffic light — there must be at least 93 pedestrians that cross at the location every hour. If pedestrian traffic is insufficient, the manual will also allow a signalized crosswalk only if five pedestrians were struck by drivers (think about that) at that location within a year.
In recent years, some progressive transportation engineers have challenged this rule, noting it subordinates pedestrian safety to the speedy flow of car traffic. (Indeed, as transportation planners sometimes joke, you can’t determine the need for a bridge by measuring how many people are swimming across the river.)
In Seattle, the city’s lead engineer, Dongho Chang, announced that the city was “piloting a new approach” to crossings on its greenway system. The city will add the crosswalk and the signal and then count how many pedestrians cross and see if it reaches the threshold that the MUTCD recommends.
According to Chang, the first experiment — at Ballard Avenue — was successful.
Eventually, some engineers hope, Seattle’s experiment will push other cities to try a new approach and, eventually, encourage action by the national committee responsible for updating the MUTCD. It’s especially important given the sharp increase pedestrian fatalities in recent years.