Thursday, August 02, 2007

Road Design and Cycling Hazards, Part 2

As I recover from my unscheduled encounter with the pavement, I want to turn the focus from my experience on my bicycle to the larger questions of road design and transportation policy. In doing so, I will offer the blindingly obvious, and hardly original, observation that roads are not intended for those in cars only.
Everyone who gets in a car eventually arrives at a destination. And whether the destination is on a city street, along a country road, in a suburban development, in an underground garage or in the parking lot of a shopping center, provision must be made for ensuring the safe interaction of people in cars and people on foot.
This insight found its way into the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in the early 1990s. ISTEA shifted the focus of federal transportation dollars to meeting the needs of people on foot as well as those in motor vehicles, who after all are the same people.
This shift in thinking led to the inclusion of pedestrian friendly features in road design such as median strips and curb bump-outs that serve the dual purposes of slowing or calming traffic and making it easier and safer to cross the street.
Next up: I offer my unified theory of speed bumps, which describes why suburban neighborhoods are so hazardous for the children who live there.


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