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America's Street Design Rules Are Not 'Modern' Enough

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    Design Design Mar 16, 2017 12:26 PM EDT

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    There is a novel kind of street design treatment that is catching on in many global cities. New street designs are focussing on walking, biking, and transit. City DOTs can do it event without guidance from transportation's engineering sections.

    Even though American street engineering does not swear by designs such as at protected bike lanes, such designs would help to speed up the pace of change if industry standards get more modern. It would make engineers ease into designing multi-modal streets. However, rule books such as the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) that have worked out guidelines to mark out pavements,  traffic signals, and signs have not managed to change or adapt, Streetsblog reported. 

    Manuals being controlled by engineers are not changing. Why is that so? With more city-friendly street design guides that have been brought out by National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), another task force has also been established by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This body publishes the MUTCD. Its "task force" will examine "interest groups that may not be part of the NCUTCD." It will also create awareness related to street designs not toeing the rules.

    As the NACTO-endorsed designs have not been explored enough, they are not certified. Opponents of the designs point out that the traffic deaths in the US are rising, even as those countries with street design philosophies that follow the old NACTO rules seem to be safer. Just a year ago, the traffic deaths on the US roads went above 40,000, according to the National Safety Council

    Lee Billingsley, NCUTCD chair and former deputy director of public works for Broward County, Florida, said: "We're working to try to enhance highway safety all the time." Progress is slow, but the committee has approved of novel changes such as contraflow bike lanes, on an interim basis.

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