Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US DOT Getting Real On Street Safety

U.S. DOT to Publish Its Own Manual on Protected Bike Lanes
This is highly encouraging news.  State's DOTS have been retrograde in their actions while cities have been making good progress.  A more progressive approach from the Feds will help turn the tide nationwide.
"Now, with a secretary at the helm who's determined to make bike and pedestrian safety his signature issue, the agency is going further. First, the next edition of the MUTCD (expected to be released in 2016 or 2017) will have a slew of new signage and markings recommendations for bicycling. FHWA's Dan Goodman told an audience at Pro-Walk Pro-Bike earlier this month that the updated MUTCD is expected to have everything from signage indicating how bikes should make two-stage turns using bike boxes to stripes extending bike lanes through intersections — and, of course, guidance on buffered and protected bike lanes.  
But perhaps more important than the changes to the MUTCD is the fact that FHWA is publishing its own manual dedicated to the design of protected bike lanes. (Despite the fact that the guide will deal exclusively with bike lanes that are protected from traffic with some kind of vertical barrier — not just paint — they still insist on calling the designs "separated" but not "protected" bike lanes, out of recognition of the fact that even what passes for "protection" in the U.S. these days — like flexible plastic bollards — don't offer much protection against a moving car. Streetsblog calls these lanes "protected," however, as a way to distinguish them from regular painted lanes, which are also "separated" from traffic.) 
And FHWA is collaborating with exactly the right people on the project. Carl Sundstrom from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and Ryan Russo of NYC DOT, who presented alongside Goodman at Pro-Walk Pro-Bike, are both consulting on the new guidelines. Sam Schwartz Engineering and Kittelson & Associates, Inc. — firms which have developed specializations in protected bike lanes — are on the consultant team. NACTO and ITE are on the technical work group along with the League of American Bicyclists' Equity Initiative and some forward-looking state DOTs, MPOs, and transit agencies."

That last part is key.  These are people who know what they're doing and won't blindly stick to the AASHTO mentality.

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