Saturday, October 30, 2021

City gets Approval for 25mph Limit on 17th Street, other Bits

Here's some good news. ODOT came around and now supports the City's desire to post the whole of 17th from Silverton Road to Mission Street for 25mph.

17th Street signed for 30mph, soon to be 25mph

City Manager's October 22nd update

Signs by themselves are of course not enough. 

But this is a good step.

Over on FB an advocate recently posted about the median refuge and crosswalk at 17th and Chemeketa, just north of that picture at State Street. Even with concrete, trees, and signage, people keep crashing into it or just driving over it.

via FB

The fact that people continue to crash into or drive over the median at 17th and Chemeketa is not evidence we should remove it, as some commenters suggested, but is evidence that it should be strengthened and more traffic calming introduced. And it is evidence that jaydriving is more common than we might think. You might recall that 15% of drivers are going 34mph or more there, many pushing 40mph.

ODOT speed study

Previously see:

Earlier this month there had also been a hit-and-run on 17th very near the Fairgrounds. Perhaps we will see more calming up and down the whole corridor now.

via Reddit

Over on Reddit, a Redditor posted a concept for a stroad-to-boulevard conversion of Lancaster Drive.

It's generated a lot of comment, much of it reflexively opposed and purely autoist, and some of it more thoughtfully skeptical, but it's good to see more people talking in general message boards, not just places transportation advocates frequent, about boulevards.

Concepts in Our Salem for a broad conversion of our big streets in mixed-use redevelopment will need reconfigured streets, and without a boulevard component, Our Salem is hamstrung.

Previously see:

Reed Road, terrible for walking or biking (2012)

The City announced work on Reed Road:

Expect delays on Reed Road SE beginning November 1, 2021 as road crews work to improve and expand the roadway between Battle Creek Road SE and Fairview Industrial Drive SE. Construction is expected to last until August 2022. There will be continuous flagging, traffic revisions, and detours resulting in long delays.

Northbound traffic on Reed Road from Battle Creek Road SE will remain open at this time. Southbound traffic on Reed Road from Fairview Industrial Drive will experience periodic closures and detours. All truck and local traffic should use Kuebler Boulevard SE or Madrona Road SE to avoid the closure. Local access will be provided from Fairview Industrial Drive SE to Strong Road for nearby businesses and residences during construction.

Be advised that Strong Road SE to 27th Avenue is not a designated detour route for truck traffic. Message boards are in place to provide notice in advance of ongoing work, future traffic revisions and other impacts.

Even with sidewalks and bike lanes, unless the road is posted for residential speed, and gets calming, it will have the same problems we see on 17th Street. See the end of this note on Council for a little more on that. New development is going in with late 20th century road standards, and we need to give more thought to road standards for the 21st century and our need to reduce driving significantly - not just to "provide options," but actually to reduce driving, to reduce number and frequency of driving trips, and to reduce length of them.


anothervoice said...

Congratulations on your victory. ODOT may now need to deal with other similar requests but that is their problem. The argument that local jurisdictions should have a bit more control over speed limits is not without merit.

As to the median enhanced crossings, I would first point out that any structures placed in streets inherently present some level of increased danger. If you examine any of these structures, you will see evidence of vehicle to concrete contact. I am aware of 4 local area deaths at these structures and the chance that this is coincidental is essentially zero so this suggests to me that there is not only correlation, but causation.

As to speed limits, an assumption used by the state (and the feds) is that it is more dangerous when limits are too low because there will inevitably be more speed disparity and that is dangerous. Some may interpret this as a call for increased enforcement but that is its own can of worms.

If safety is the real goal, commenters should understand that things like stop and go traffic, congestion, distractions, and frustrated drivers are important considerations that professional transportation officials consider when trying to make roads safer.

Something that is not often discussed is the effect of "calming" on emergency vehicles. I have discussed this issue with police officers, fire department officials, ambulance company operators and emergency room directors and their reactions ranged from very concerned to angry. I recently asked a police officer about how he felt about a signalized ped crossing and he got very angry. He thought I was taunting him. He hates them. My guess is that at least twice as many people will die due to "calming" and that does not include those who will suffer life long consequences as a result of delays.

An emergency room director emphasized that even a 30 second delay could very well mean that a stroke or heart attack victim might experience a less favorable outcome. The city wisely sees to it that available ambulances are distributed throughout the city (I think that that is still the case) but unwarranted changes to the overall environment which slows traffic and increases congestion will certainly result in unintended and undesirable consequences.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

You realize you are defending scofflaw jaydriving, right? You appear sometimes to have more sympathy for bad drivers who hurt themselves and other people than for more vulnerable people out walking!

To say "Don't make drivers angry" and "See what you made them do?" maps onto the language of gaslighting and abuse.

As for public safety, if there is anything we have learned in the last few years of videos and protests, it is to approach self-interested statements by law enforcement with real skepticism. Too often they are more interested in power than in justice.

The more attractive we make it not to drive, the fewer drivers are on the road. That makes the space you want for public safety vehicles and makes for fewer originators of crashes. Which in turn reduces the total, aggregate cost of injury and death.

Finally, we need a transportation system more optimized for ordinary function, and less engineered for extreme edge cases.

Professional traffic engineering is pretty messed up, badly distorted by hydraulic metaphors and analysis. Fortunately, there is an incipient course-correction underway. Our needs on climate demand that we drive less. Congestion can no longer be the primary problem to solve.

anothervoice said...

Many moons ago, I was taught by a driver's training instructor that driving significantly faster or slower than surrounding traffic is dangerous. Some may think that that supports "bad drivers" when the flow of traffic moves at a speed greater than the posted limit, but it actually supports good drivers because good drivers are ones that make driving safer. Traffic laws are means to an end. The end is safety (and good traffic flow, which is also related to safety).

My comment about frustrated drivers is not quite the same as "don't make them angry", but "don't make them angry" is good advice. "See what you made them do" is also good advice. Traffic designs and controls have direct and predictable impacts so being aware of the results of changes is important and usually done as a matter of course. This position need not be confused with "don't do anything that drivers don't like even when doing that thing is the right thing to do" but it takes knowledge, experience, and discretion to know the difference.

Punishing scofflaws is a good proximal approach but safety is the holy grail. When deciding who should be cited and the severity of penalties, we should make distinctions between intentional and outrageous acts and the minor transgressions of imperfect human beings.

Regardless of how we encourage non-autoist activity, there will be a base line of use. Demand can not be ignored. We should be careful about the safety implications connected to "calming" devices. The locations and dependent variables where these devices are placed need to be examined individually. The utility of certain traffic control devices should (and generally is) site specific. One size does not fit all.

Simplifications of complex problems results in poor outcomes.

We are both concerned about pedestrian safety. None of us have all the answers. My responsibility is to encourage staff and those who wish to influence staff to sometimes step back and re-examine some of their assumptions and for staff to do their best to resist political influences that produce bad decisions.

anothervoice said...

The father of an 11 year old girl that died at a signalized pedestrian crossing in Corvallis just filed a lawsuit. This tragedy occurred within the last few years. I almost added it to the four I mentioned earlier but I decided to only mention the ones in our immediate area. It will be interesting for all of us to see what comes of the action.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

It sounds like that area in Corvallis, right at an important grocery store, near a large sports complex, and on an urban stretch of state highway, needs more calming, not less. You can see it here. (Also the area is discussed a little in a blog post here.) It is a big stroad with four car travel lanes and a center turn pocket, and is at a pair of on- and off-ramps. It clearly has a design speed far in excess of the posted 25mph. It induces zoomy driving.

Indeed, speeding was involved, and there have been other crashes. The problem to be solved is drivers going too fast, not pedestrian impedance to be engineered out by a pedestrian displacement system. Drivers can be slowed by better road design that makes speeding more difficult and less likely. Significantly, the suit asks for sight-lines to be improved, not for the crosswalk and refuge median to be removed.

From the GT:
"The initial complaint filed by Rhianna Daniel’s estate said Eschwey was driving at around 45 mph, but a video assessment by Corvallis police Detective Ty Volin estimated Eschwey’s speed at 32-33 mph in the 25 mph speed zone....

Daniel wasn’t the first to be hit in that crosswalk — the area has a history of accidents. At the time of the January incident, there had already been two other traffic fatalities at that same block of Third Street. Both of these deaths involved bicyclists....

The crosswalk where Daniel’s fatality occurred was equipped with flashing yellow lights that can be activated by the user. However, two of the four lights were damaged in a crash in August 2020 and had not been replaced at the time of the January incident.

Mike said...

I get frustrated every time that I hear how traffic calming will unnecessarily slow down emergency vehicles. I want to know how it can be done in cities with a high population density, narrow streets and lots of foot and car traffic but here in the great USA, particularly auto centric cities, we’re just not capable of figuring it out.

Or maybe it’s that we don’t really want to install traffic calming measures and emergency vehicles are just a convenient excuse.

anothervoice said...

I would also add to the SBOB comment the fact that the primary focus of the complaint seems to be "line of sight", not the presence of the structure. Nevertheless, I am convinced that they are extremely dangerous and rarely, if ever, should be used.

I assume that there will be more research conducted by the plaintiffs and that more about the crossings will be revealed. One matter that might be addressed is that failure to hit the button can result in death. The button was not used here or during the Portland Rd. tragedy. Drivers depending on unreliable info is a concern. (Failure to use the button occurred at 2 of the 5 deaths that I am aware of at these structures)

Chances are that there will be a settlement of some sort, but I hope that this tragedy can be used as a way to stimulate discussions about how and where these structures might be used. The more that the plaintiffs learn ... the better position that they will be in during negotiations.

The next hearing date is December 20th.

My opinion is that signalized crossings, in most cases, is counterproductive but use in places like Lincoln City, where there is often a continuous flow of traffic on three lane sections of 101, make sense because a lot of tourists go back and forth within the commercial areas.

As to calming, I just had a lesson about how impatient and self righteous drivers can be dangerous. Yesterday, I turned right where it was posted that right turns were allowed without stopping. A car across and facing me was stopped at a stop sign. Soon after I turned onto a 2 lane street, I felt a car rub the driver's side of my car. I quickly moved to the right and stopped. The car stopped in front of me and the driver jumped out and shouted that she was at the stop sign first. When I explained that I was not required to stop, she got madder because "I have seen people stop there". I told her that, yes, people going straight are required to stop. She apologized. I think people underestimate the importance of good education and how angry people can get over minor stuff.