REVISE THE MANUAL ON UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES!
To our supporters: Many may not realize that there is a manual governing how our roads are designed, which is to prioritize the expedited movement of motor vehicles, NOT for the safety of people. It’s called the Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). It’s outdated and related to, if not responsible for many of the problems on our streets today.
A large population in Asbury Park, and all over the US are is directly affected by streets that are not designed for people. We need to change this. We need streets that are safe for the most vulnerable road users.
This graph from the last census shows the numbers of people who walk and bike to work – everyone deserves equitable mobility.
Please read about the initiative to rewrite the MUTCD and add your comment. You can copy and paste the text below (or write your own comment) on the Transportation For America page, and click on “submit your comment” where you can also post on the Regulations.gov site.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition supports America Walks. And I personally care deeply about my community, Asbury Park, NJ, and neighboring communities in the Jersey Shore area.The MUTCD is an obstacle to human activity by prioritizing the level of service for vehicular traffic, and must be completely revised to change the way roads and streets are designed.I join America Walks and other groups to ask that U.S. DOT perform a comprehensive overhaul of the MUTCD, centering on safety and equity. We need a rule book that is designed to support healthier, safer communities, that:
Ensures every urban and suburban signalized intersection has basic pedestrian infrastructure, like curb ramps, pedestrian signal heads that display “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” messages and crosswalks.
Sets speed limits based on safety, not based on how fast drivers can speed through our cities and towns.
Gives local residents a voice in what kind of infrastructure is needed.
Gives engineers flexibility to design streets that are safe enough for children, and all vulnerable users to navigate.I join America Walks in asking that FHWA reframe and rewrite the MUTCD, creating a path for guidance that aligns with the equity, safety, and sustainability goals of American cities, as well as those of the Biden Administration.
There are no easy ways to describe 2020 as it comes to a close. In the past weeks writers have been philosophizing, analyzing, probing for meaning and grasping for lessons going forward. In Asbury Park we can learn from the mistakes made during these months during the pandemic. We’ve had false starts, beginning with rolling out a neighborhood Slow Streets program without enough community input, and quickly dismantling it. We made the great step of prioritizing people by implementing an Open Streets plan on Cookman Ave (with the hope of making it permanent), allowing foot traffic, outdoor dining and retail on the street between Thursdays and Monday mornings. Then a we sent a conflicting message that cars rule, advertising free holiday parking and welcoming drivers back. Asbury Park social justice advocates are working to limit police interaction in mental health calls and traffic enforcement. And Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition is continually working with city leaders to make city streets safer and more livable, especially for the most vulnerable. None of it will be easy, and we are grateful for community support.
Onward to 2021.
Goodbye to 2020, a Truly Unimaginable Year for Sustainable Transportation
By Kea Wilson
Let’s pause for a second and imagine that we could go back in time to Dec. 31, 2019, and tell sustainable transportation advocates what this year held in store for our movement.
Imagine how those hypothetical advocates would react if you told them that, within a few months, roughly two-thirds of all car traffic would abruptly vanish from U.S. streets.
Imagine what our former selves would say you if you told them that such a rapture would prompt countless cities across the country to transform roadways that used to be dedicated exclusively to private vehicles into places to play, move, eat, shop, learn, and more.
Then imagine their faces if you told them that countless other cities would do nothing at all, even as those wide-empty streets encouraged the drivers who remained to speed out of control — forcing per-mile car crash rates to a terrifying, 15-year high.
There’s less traffic everywhere in the world right now. More people are staying close to home, and many are walking and riding bikes. At the same time drivers are speeding more. Maybe it’s an increased sense of driver entitlement with more open roads, or the knowledge that police are less likely to engage with speeders, and in some cities even refusing to respond to calls for non-injury crashes, all making streets even more dangerous.
As always, but especially now we need to be more aware of the most vulnerable moving about in our cities: people walking, biking, and using other forms of micro-transit. To maintain 6′ distance during the viral outbreak, people walking must move off too-narrow sidewalks into the street. Those who ride bikes must also maintain 6′ distance. But bike riders fearful of speeding and distracted drivers may feel safer on sidewalks, even if there are bike lanes. Paint doesn’t protect.
The problem isn’t walkers or people on bikes. It’s #toomanycars, and #slowthecars.
Let’s consider closing some Asbury Park streets to automotive traffic to allow more space for people. If we envision the successful street closures during the Sea. Hear. Now Festival, we can see that Ocean Avenue could be closed to cars, at least temporarily while the boardwalk is closed (and probably soon the beach). Cookman Avenue would make a great walking plaza, especially now while businesses are mostly closed, and maybe it could remain permanently a place for people. It’s becoming evident all over the world that cities are more vibrant where there are fewer cars. This would be a great time to try it out.
How to Open Streets Right During Social Distancing
“The first place we should start, the advocates we spoke to argued, is with closing off as many streets as possible that run through our parks to motor vehicles — not just a handful of them, as may cities are doing now. And it’d be even better to close off roads adjacent to parks, too: Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia, tactical urbanism superstars and co-principals of Street Plans, offered particular applause to Minneapolis’ decision to allow limited road closures near its river front.
Next stop: the cul-de-sacs. Streets that are already pretty quiet have absolutely no reason to allow non-resident traffic right now, when the risk of killing new crowds of of walker vastly outweighs the risk of holding up a traffic pattern that has largely come to a standstill. And that goes for through-streets that don’t connect major essential services, too.
Third stop: those small, walkable shopping districts where all the businesses are closed anyway. Jason Roberts of Better Block thinks it’s particularly important to give residents safe, contactless access to window shopping, street vendors, and even shuttered restaurants, which can be converted into open-air markets through Better Block’s free downloadable shelf plans.”
The automotive industry has co-opted our language and we’re just becoming aware of the calculated plan. We’re people driving vehicles, and we’re also people riding bikes, and walking – and yes, riding scooters too. But guess who gets the benefit of language that absolves them of responsibility in injuries and fatalities? It’s NOT an accident.
We don’t say “plane accident.” We shouldn’t say “car accident” either.
AUTOMAKERS TRIED TO SHAPE NEWS COVERAGE OF CRASHES — BY CALLING THEM ACCIDENTS
In response to the emerging public backlash against cars (which were, at the time, largely owned and driven by the wealthy), automakers and other industry groups pushed for a new set of laws that kept pedestrians off the streets, except at crosswalks.
To get people to follow these laws, they tried to shape news coverage of crashes. The National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, an industry group, established a free wire service for newspapers: Reporters could send in the basic details of a traffic collision, and would get in return a complete article to print the next day. These articles, printed widely, shifted the blame for crashes to pedestrians — and almost always used the word “accident.”
Amsterdam wasn’t always bicycling heaven. Vehicles had been taking over city streets there just as they have been taking over streets in the US, but they did something about it…
This 1972 documentary video tells the story of a how the children in a neighborhood in Amsterdam fought for safe streets and a place to play with what we now call “tactical urbanism”.The area had become congested by vehicles. People, especially children were endangered. Does this 1972 neighborhood look like any American cities we are familiar with today? Some US cities are taking steps to change from “car culture” , into cities for people of all ages , but not enough, and not fast enough. 40,000 people are killed in motor vehicle related crashes every year in the US!
The documentary video was discovered recently, and shortened to about 10 minutes with subtitles. Watch and share.
Image from the documentary from 1972. The streets are dominated by cars and there is not a tree in sight.
“This would be a perfect area for a trial with a maximum speed of 30km/h” (18mph) explains a traffic expert of the city of Amsterdam to a child in a film that was broadcast on Dutch national TV almost 42 years ago.
“The TV documentary was made for a progressive broadcasting corporation and shows the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective.”
The same street as seen in Google Streetview is very different. The carriage way was narrowed. The homes renovated and the trees and bicycles make the area a lot friendlier.
The issues of parking in Australia are the same as those in the US. Comforting to know that we’re not alone struggling with this, and in every city with the same problem, it all comes down to #toomanycars. There’s tension between the auto industry desperately trying to keep cars on the roads, engineers who persist in designing roads for cars, and the oil and gas industries vs environmentalists who have been letting us know that emissions are killing the planet, and urban planners who realize that streets should be designed as places for people and that #slowthecars will save thousands of lives each year. Cities designed with alternative transportation options are more livable – healthier and safer.
OF ALL THE PROBLEMS OUR CITIES NEED TO FIX, LACK OF CAR PARKING ISN’T ONE OF THEM
“…cars dominate our cities, supported by decades of unbalanced planning decisions favouring space for cars over other land uses or forms of transport. “
Think of the reasons that you love Asbury Park. Four cities were in the semi-final round of The Strongest Town. (Voting is now closed, and results are in as of April 6. Stay tuned.). Would Asbury Park someday be able to see our name on this list? Could we win? Take a look at the The Strong Towns Strength Test. Click on the underlined questions for details. How do you think we would score? Asbury Park might only score a 1 out of 10 right now – We have work to do, but with your support of APCSC advocacy we are moving in the right direction!
We understand that cities are complex, adaptable systems that defy easy or precise measurement, so we asked ourselves: are there simple observations we use to signal that a city is either a strong town or on its way to becoming one? If you went to a place and had a little bit of time, could you scratch the surface and get a sense of how strong and resilient it was?
Here are ten simple questions we call the Strong Towns Strength Test. A Strong Town should be able to answer “yes” to each of these questions. (Click on the underlined questions to read a step-by-step guide for answering that question.)
A common complaint from drivers about Asbury Park’s Main Street reconfiguration has been the fear that they won’t be able to get through the city as quickly as possible. Of course we know that traffic calming will actually allow traffic to move more smoothly. But even more, it will become a REAL Main Street. A place for people, not just a way to get through the city. Watch the short video for inspiration!
THE KEY TO SAFE STREETS: FIVE CITIES HUMANIZING STREET DESIGN
FEB 21, 2019
By Katherine Peinhardt and Nidhi Gulati
If we begin to look at streets as places, rather than through-ways, we see them as the deeply human spaces that they are. Places of commerce, work, recreation, and play, streets are one of the most fundamental public spaces with which we interact on a day-to-day basis. Safe streets for walking must be considered as a basic human right, given that, for many, walking is one of the first skills acquired in childhood, and one of the last things let go of in old age.