Learning to Love Your Traffic Engineer ? Standards

Wednesday, December 11 by JerryFoster

Using Desired Operating SpeedTo learn to love our traffic engineers, we have to understand why they don?t feel they have the authority to design roads to meet citizens? needs ? the standards won?t let them.

Marohn notes that standards are ?the engineering profession’s version of defensive medicine.?

Gary Toth invites us to ?marvel at how thoroughly the transportation establishment delivered on its perceived mandate?, including ??language/terminology; funding mechanisms; curriculum at universities; values; and policies. Common professional organizations? reinforce and standardize this? at a scale that has rarely been matched by any other profession.?

Citizens should note that engineers are required to follow the standards for traffic signals (Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices) – the others are guidelines.

Toth advises ?Design manuals often present standards in ranges from minimum to desirable. Has the designer selected the desirables instead of minimums?? Residents will want the minimums, as the ?desirables? are from the point of view of creating a wider, straighter and faster roadway.

Conventional DesignIn this series, we?ve set up a ?straw man? based on traditional engineering practices. The critique reported here comes from within the profession, however, and context sensitive standards such as NJDOT?s Smart Transportation Guidebook have been published that, if implemented, will significantly improve livability, which is the goal of the WWBPA.

We?ve seen how standards? flexibility enable engineers to design bike and walk friendly roadways, so in our next installment, we?ll look at liability concerns.

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Learning to Love Your Traffic Engineer – What the Public Wants

Wednesday, November 13 by JerryFoster

It?s hard to learn to love our traffic engineers ? they don?t see the same world we do, and don?t want to talk about it. Why not? Have you been to a public meeting?

The public has issues – many residents have not learned to disengage knee-jerk thinking, do their homework or propose constructive suggestions. Some are hostile to any government action, including road projects.

We choose to live in West Windsor because of the promise of safety, good schools, open space and convenient train commuting. We love our cars, but don?t want traffic in our neighborhoods.

Charles Marohn, an engineer and planner, identifies the different values of residents and engineers. In order, residents prioritize safety, low cost, traffic volume and speed, while engineers prioritize speed, volume, safety and cost.

Value divergence shows in the effort to improve walking and biking along Cranbury Road. Despite WWBPA recommendations, residents? public comments and numerous yard signs asking motorists to Drive 25, traffic calming was rejected as a project goal.

We?re determined to learn to love our engineers, so in our next installment we?ll focus on the most divergent values ? speed and volume.

 

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2020

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