Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ODOT Safety Plan is Autoist, Insufficiently Bold; Comment through August 1

2016 draft Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan
Last month ODOT released the draft Transportaton Safety Action Plan for public comment.

It's hard to get excited about it.

It's really autoist.

While it is garlanded with some of the rhetoric of vision zero, it's not very deeply thought through or enacted.

page 5-3

For example, it proposes we "identify unsafe walking, biking, or driving behaviors which could be addressed through legislation."

That sounds like a page out of the same playbook that criminalized jaywalking and wants to carve out plenty of room in the frame to blame the victim when a person on foot is killed.

Later, in a section on "Healthy, livable communities," it's mostly about "law enforcement" rather than about "planned land uses" or about health and livability.

page 5-6
Probably the whole autoist sensibility, and its gaps, is most visible in the section on "older drivers."

page 6-23
The solution here plainly is to make it easy, effortless and painless, for older drivers to give up their keys.

But instead the recommendation is "Identify risk factors for older drivers and implement treatments, within current law."

Over at Treehugger there was a piece about bike helmets, and in it was a discussion of occupational safety. If that citation accurately reflects our national approach and its standards, it formalizes what has seemed intuitive here: The best way to make driving safer is to make it easy for people not to drive. Humans aren't wired to avoid stumbling over seams in the sidewalk, so what makes us think we can safely drive sheetmetal that weighs a thousand pounds and whose power is measured in hundreds of horses?

via Treehugger and NIOSH
If the top two controls are to "remove the hazard" and "replace the hazard" that means we should remove or replace the driving trip - we should drive less! - and our policy actions should aim towards that.

ODOT's Safety Plan is instead structured around the idea that the primary task is to make the same amount of driving safer.

But the hierarchy from the occupational safety approach suggests ODOT's own approach here is inferior and unlikely to attain the vision:
Oregon envisions no deaths or life-changing injuries on Oregon’s transportation system by 2035
It looks like it's being set up for failure.

A more serious approach to safety would more actively work to shift driving trips to non-driving trips. It would more deeply work for transforming mobility. It would also work generally to reduce speeds - not just to improve compliance on posted speeds, but to reduce posted and design speeds themselves. Nowhere is there a hint of "twenty is plenty."

Absent these commitments, the Safety Plan is half-baked and too timid.

Through August 1. Comments can be emailed to safety@odot.state.or.us or mailed to ODOT Planning, Attn: TSAP, 555 13th St. NE, Salem OR 97301.

See notes from January on an earlier draft, here and here. The criticism then seems still to hold today.


Anonymous said...

Those interested might compare it with WSDOT's. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/SHSP.htm

Mike said...

I attended one of the meetings and they seemed to be interested in making the biking and pedestrian environment safer. But once the autism lobby get a hold of things the priorities change.

Really the only way tot change things is to blow up the entire system. The highway lobby and ODOT need to e taken off the federal and state budget teat. Cities around the state need to know that if they make bad development decisions they will not have the state and federal government come in and "save" them by expanding road capacity. And the whole banking/mortgage system needs to stop looking at suburban style development as a safe investment.

As much as I sometimes think that James Kunstler is a bit too much of a cheerleader for a coming disaster, I think he's partly right. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect our cities, state and country to get better. And it seems that only a massive and fundamental change will stop the monster.