Friday, December 13, 2013

Public Works to Make Rules on Streets and Standards

On Monday at Council, there was the notice for some "Administrative Rulemaking" by Public Works. At the time the links didn't work, so it wasn't clear what was up.

Now we know! It's an interesting process. Apparently there's no need to highlight the changes, so what we have to wade through is a long 300+pp document with the rules and standards.

It is hardly possible for someone without specialized knowledge to have anything informed to say whether the changes are good or bad.

This is lousy open government!

Here is a not-quite-random assortment of relevant clips from Chapter 109, Division 006 on "Street Design Standards."  It is not meant to be comprehensive. It is not certain whether these represent changes from the previous version of standards.

Most Bike Lanes = 6 feet

Design Speed = Posted Limit + 5/10 mph

No traffic calming for you!

Is there a missed opportunity to specify type of bike racks?
Let's go back to the design speed table.  So the minimum design speed for a collector is 35mph.  In some instances it could be more.  And that design speed is supposed to be the 85th percentile - so that means we are designing streets with the assumption that 15% of drivers will be driving faster than the design speed.  We design roads to "forgive" errors in speeds above the posted speed limit.  While this may create the illusion of safety for a driver who is taking a curve too fast, the road actually encourages this speeding by its "forgiving" design and, more importantly, for the person who is biking or walking, forgiveness for the driver may entail harm or even death for other, more vulnerable users of the road.

Our assumptions about "design speed" in engineering details are an institutionalized way that we encourage and accommodate speeding and compromise safety for certain classes of road users.

Public Works is taking comment through December 23rd. Email James Bonnet to comment.

No comments: