Last night’s “Yes You Can, it’s in the MUTCD” workshop was a success. Mike Anderson (of http://www.portlandafoot.org ) and I wandered through various roadway and pedway standards for a good two hours. Lots of great info, and I learned a few new things.
Some highlights —
1) The Oregon Highway Design Manual and the AASHTO Green Book both mandate that streets be designed for travel at 10 mph above the posted speed limit. And that the Oregon Highway Design Manual also mandates that street reconstruction be done for the “85th percentile” speed (the speed at which only 1 in 6 cars is going faster than). So, it’s a vicious circle of ever-increasing speed. The roads are designed for faster than the speed limit, then folks naturally drive at 10 mph above the speed limit, then the road gets redesigned for 10 mph faster… See 5.1.2 and 5.1.3 in http://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/ENGSERVICES/hwy_manuals.shtml
2) The AASHTO Bicycle Facility Design Guide has design speeds for multi use paths. With curve radii for 12, 15, 20 and 30 mph design speeds. So if someone (like ODOT) is putting in a lame bicycle path with sharp zig zags, you can ask them to follow the design standards set by AASHTO. p. 38 in http://www.sccrtc.org/bikes/AASHTO_1999_BikeBook.pdf
3) The Portland 2030 Bike Plan calls for development of new engineering for bike facilities, with this gem “…the updated bicycle facility design guidelines will address the difference between design standards and guidelines…” p. 64 at http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=44597&a=289122 (download the whole document or just “Part Three”) The difference between “standards” and “guidelines” is the bane of a bicycle advocate — most bicycle facility design comes under the label of “guidelines” which means that governments should follow it if they can, and if it’s not “feasible” then tough luck for the bicyclists. “Standards” are much more powerful — if there is a facility that isn’t up to “standards” then the government can get sued if anyone is injured on it, so they have powerful motivation to make improvements when asked.
I’d like to repeat the seminar at a time when more people can come — post your preferred time in the comments, or email them to me.