We recently had a meeting in Asbury Park about the problem of speeding, and slowing drivers on our streets, a proposed traffic calming measure, specifically mini roundabouts, and how speed limits are determined.
Our Transportation Manager attempted to explain to the attendees what the 85th Percentile Rule is as they questioned why we can’t change speed limit signs. We just can’t. Or at least not without great difficulty.
In simple terms it’s an engineering calculation that the speed limit is determined by the actual speed that people drive. It’s hopefully soon-to-be edited Manual For Urban Traffic Control Devices, MUCTD.
The 85th Percentile Rule is horrible. It’s not about safety.
Hear me? IT’S NOT ABOUT SAFETY. IT’S NOT ABOUT SLOWING DRIVERS.
It’s about expediting the movement of vehicles.
Here’s a simple, short video with great graphics with Transportation 4 America director Beth Osborne, who joined Wall Street Journal correspondent George Downs to explain why one controversial method for setting speed limits results in higher and higher speeds.
It’s also clearly explained in the excellent site for National Association of City Transportation Officials, NACTO. These folks get it.
The crazy thing is that traffic engineers and planning people don’t seem to speak the same language.
We have city planners who are hamstrung by these regulations, but we can get around them with creative solutions to #slowthecars like mini-roundabouts, speed humps, street narrowing…and we have the grant money do do it.
Let’s get on the same page about saving lives and saving the planet.
…and it’s a human health crisis.
People who bought huge new SUVs and trucks when prices were down are paying the price big time (as are all drivers of personal vehicles). Drivers of these oversized machines have contributed to a huge increase in road fatalities. The consumption of gas by vehicles of all sizes has contributed to deaths due to respiratory diseases resulting from the impact on the environment.
We must figure out a way, “both immediately and over the long term, to curb the addiction to oil. In the United States, transportation accounts for over 70 percent of total oil consumption, and more than 65 percent of that is for personal vehicles, according to the Energy Information Administration. Put another way, personal vehicles alone account for almost half of the burning of petroleum in America. A whopping 80 percent of U.S. climate emissions from transportation come from driving.”
The bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t come close to addressing the real problem, which is too many cars, which will be exacerbated by expansion of highways, rather than fixing existing infrastructure, investing in transit, and helping cities reduce car dependency. It could have funded initiatives for cities to be bold, to help to create streets that are people-centric, to make transit free, and to give rebates to people who buy bikes, and bonuses to folks who get around without a car.
“…as the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) said in a statement last year, the “bill goes in the wrong direction, giving a whopping $200 billion in virtually unrestricted funding” to unsustainable forms of transportation.”
It’s still possible for Biden to make an impact. He can publicly call upon mayors to accelerate transit development, bike, and pedestrian programs using funding in the American Rescue Plan.
“The bipartisan infrastructure package has only made the challenge more difficult. But municipalities could still make it right.”
By pouring money into fossil fuel infrastructure, the bipartisan law is already showing its tragic inadequacies.
By Alexander Sammon
MARCH 14, 2022
Asbury Park can redesign and reinvest in our streets as spaces for people, as well as critical arteries for traffic. 3rd and 4th Avenues are through streets into and out of our city. These are wide, lovely residential streets that are treated as speedways for drivers.
Drivers will speed if they are able to do so. Education and enforcement are certainly ways to attempt to change driver behavior. But the most effective way to prevent speeding is to erect visual and physical obstacles, so drivers are less likely to press down on the gas pedal.
One such traffic calming measure that has been discussed in Asbury Park is the use of mini roundabouts. There are other effective measures as well. Please take a look at the Urban Street Design Guide, offering the best principles and practices of the foremost engineers, planners, and designers working in cities today.
The guide outlines options that are effective and attractive to keep the most vulnerable road users safe, and to maintain the beauty of our neighborhoods.
Here are a few:
Note: these traffic calming designs are not those which have been proposed for Asbury Park. They are examples from the Urban Street Design Guide prepared by the National Association of City Transportation Officials
As always, APCSC values your comments, and please share!
Polli Schildge, APCSC Editor