Saturday, January 16, 2016

New ODOT Transportation Safety Plan Open House on Tuesday

Since road safety is pretty top of mind right now, it is very convenient that ODOT is holding some open houses on a new transportation safety plan. One will be Tuesday right here in Salem.

October 2015 draft Transportation Safety Action Plan
From the release:
The draft Transportation Safety Action Plan will be discussed at a ‘listening session’ that begins at 10 a.m., Jan. 19 at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive, SE in Salem. The public is invited to discuss the draft goals and policies, and help identify “emphasis areas,” which are priority actions to address transportation safety over the next five years. The plan provides long- and short-term policy for making decisions that address the core transportation safety challenges and opportunities facing Oregon. It also serves as the federally-required Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Anyone interested can also submit comments to
The long, long walk at Fish and Wildlife
The Plan starts off pretty great with what looks like a statement - or approximation - of Vision Zero:

"Oregon envisions no deaths or life-changing injuries on Oregon's transportation system by 2035."

That's a clear and unambiguous goal.

But the more detailed goals and policies behind it leave me a little dubious. I'm not sure the vision is actually being set up for success. In a 33 page document, there's no general discussion of bicycling, and it seems like the mentions of bike-related words are interstitial rather than fundamental and integral. I'm not convinced safety for non-auto users is actually central.

The first mention of bicycle under "infrastructure" is also interesting as it contains a clear statement of "forgiveness" for driver errors. The paragraph strictly read says "small user mistakes," but usually language like this ends up being read as "car users" rather than people on foot or on bike. I worry that while the language might look universal, it remains autoist. There's no discussion, I think, of the fundamental asymmetry between a car weighing 1000s of pounds of metal and an unprotected human. Urban speeds, and the clear need to slow them, also don't seem like they get enough discussion.

In fact, I think it completely whiffs on two basic princples:
  • Since driving is dangerous, make it easy for people not to drive.
  • Since speed makes a huge difference in crash severity and probability of fatality, generally speeds need to be reduced in urban settings.
Anyway, here are the relevant bike passages, you can see how biking is often enumerated as part of a list rather than something discussed specifically. Maybe you will see other things that seem significant.

Four mentions of bicycle:
Goal 2: Infrastructure

Transportation infrastructure should be designed, built, operated and maintained to provide the safest feasible environment for all transportation users. When proven safety design, geometry, signage, and other measures are applied, small user mistakes should not typically result in serious crashes. Reducing conflicts through measures such as access management and channelization is a key element of making transportation facilities safer. Oregon’s transportation infrastructure includes state and local public facilities (streets, freeways, paths, bicycle facilities, signs, lights, traffic signals, interchanges, barrier rail, guard rail, etc) and other transportation assets including the technology resources that support transportation operations, planning and decision making....[italics added]

Strategy 2.1.2 – Research and pursue new methods for crash, roadway and exposure (e.g. vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle volume) data collection, sharing, and storage....

Strategy 3.1.1 - Support a data-driven and high visibility enforcement program with approaches such as increased traffic, bicycle and pedestrian law enforcement capabilities (priority and funding) and use of data analysis to efficiently deploy enforcement resources to locations or corridors....

Strategy 3.1.5 - Conduct education and outreach to law enforcement to increase understanding and enforcement of traffic, commercial vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle laws.
Two of bicyclist:
Transportation safety requires a combined effort from many different entities, including but not limited to all levels of government, the emergency response community, health services providers, law enforcement, road and other facility designers and builders, rail and transit providers, non-profit health and safety organizations, industries providing safety tools and materials, and individual drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians....

An emerging technology garnering national attention and testing is autonomous and connected vehicles. Oregon has been engaged in this conversation from the outset, which if deployed would enable on-road communications between vehicles, between vehicles and pedestrians/bicyclists, and between vehicles and infrastructure. This has tremendous safety implications as the technology would allow for automatic control of signal timing, speed management, and the operation of transit and commercial vehicles, among other safety features. ODOT continues to stay at the forefront of this national dialogue and inform transportation and safety stakeholders of new developments.
One of bicycling:
Facility design influences how people interact with and use the transportation system. People driving, riding, walking and bicycling navigate the transportation system using visual cues, signage, regulations and their personal expectations about how other people will use the transportation system. Infrastructure for all travelers needs to be planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained to clearly convey travel speed and behavior consistent with the surrounding land uses and anticipated users, and to carefully manage interactions across modes.
Update - January 20th

Totally forgot about this study.

ODOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
Implementation Plan (entire here)
It should more deeply inform the more general "transportation safety action plan." You can read more on it here.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added link to the separate bike/ped safety study. They don't seem very coordinated.