Thursday, September 1, 2016

Safety should be a pre-condition, not a goal

Pre-Script: I wrote the following as a comment on a Bike-Pgh message board thread on 30 August 2013, three years to the day before Dennis Flanagan was killed. Fresh in mind was PennDOT's mis-handling of the West Carson Street project. It is almost the same message I started to say at the Oakland Forbes Ave meeting last night. My, how little has changed.
Original thread:
I guess I better get my pen busy.

Safety should not be a goal of any road project or transportation maintenance plan, but rather a pre-condition. The distinction is critical. To have safety as a mere goal means it’s a thing you strive for, instead of something that’s flat-out-assured before you push a pencil, a lever or a shovelful of dirt.
The other side of it, and I’d better give this a good solid scouring before I say anything to them, but I’ll air it here, is that I am sure they are all about maintaining congestion free roads, disrupting traffic as little as possible, getting cars and trucks to and from efficiently.
I dispute this approach. I think we really want the opposite, to make it slower, make it harder to get around *by car* *so that* safety is assured when getting around by any other means, like crossing a street getting off a bus, like bicycling. 
* Road diets
* “Twenty Is Plenty” campaigns in residential areas
* Dropping every speed limit on every non-superhighway by 5 mph
* Getting rid of multiple lanes
* Stricter conditions for getting and keeping a driver’s license
In short, pretty much everything they wanted to do in 1972, do the exact opposite. My guess is that all these white-haired senior managers all got their driver’s licenses in or about 1972 (I got mine in 1976 and I’m 54), so their entire mindset, their whole philosophy of life, their entire careers, is built on how things worked back then. I use the year 1972 because it was just before the 1973 Arab oil boycott, the first time in over a generation (WW2 rationing) anyone had to think about gasoline.
And that’s what we’re up against.
In a later comment, I added this:
I think the short version of my message is, if you’re within the Blue Belt, and are in a car, you’re doing it wrong. For PennDOT, plan your capacity accordingly.

1 comment:

  1. PennDOT and their ilk are all about reducing congestion and getting X number of cars per hour through a spot. To get them to put safety first, we need for them to think differently, to make it *harder* to get from A to B by car. We need to sell the public on this, as well.