Demand a Manual for Safer Streets by May 14

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This week, we can make our voice heard on the future of the little known, very technical, and vastly influential design guide governing traffic signs and road markings, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This will be the first opportunity in over a decade that the public has had a chance to weigh in on the MUTCD and how it shapes our transportation system. Comments on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) are due on May 14 at 11:59 pm ET. 

 

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Take action now and add your voice in support of the League’s comments

Read our previous blogs on the MUTCD:

APRIL 2, 2021 / A ONCE-IN-A-DECADE OPPORTUNITY FOR BETTER ROADS »

APRIL 28, 2021 / THE MUTCD: REFRAME FOR SAFETY, REWRITE FOR THE FUTURE »

APRIL 29, 2021 / SEPARATED BIKE LANES, AUTOMATED VEHICLES, AND THE MUTCD »

MARCH 2021 / BACKGROUND ON THE MUTCD »

With more than 2,000 public comments already submitted, there is clearly interest in this update and in ensuring that our nation’s manual for how traffic control devices (such as signs, markings, and traffic signals) can be used by city and state engineers is one that affirmatively makes streets safer.

Please join the League of American Bicyclists in Demanding a Manual for Safer Streets

The United States is at a potential turning point in traffic safety. 2020 saw the largest increase in traffic deaths in 96 years in the United States while at the same time other countries saw record decreases in traffic deaths. For about a decade, the United States has had a traffic fatality rate 2-4 times higher than other peer countries and in 2020 that gap widened considerably. Without embracing change, including within the MUTCD, the United States will continue to see 300,000+ traffic deaths each decade – an epidemic of traffic violence that is entirely preventable.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which is responsible for the MUTCD, has already taken steps to change how the United States approaches traffic safety. The League is glad to see the FHWA’s embrace of a Safe System approach to traffic safety that recognizes the need for road design to decrease speed, provide separation where needed for safety, and create contexts where human mistakes do not lead to life altering injuries and deaths.

In the League’s more than 200 comments on the MUTCD, we focus on the need for the MUTCD to be aligned with the Safe System approach embraced by FHWA and the Biden Administration’s goals of improving equity, safety, and sustainability. Throughout our comments, it is clear there are many areas where FHWA can improve the document, and the League supports a comprehensive rethinking and reframing of the MUTCD so it provides the tools and guidance needed for a future transportation system that moves towards improving safety and sustainability rather than vehicle flow.

Many of the League’s comments can be traced back to the MUTCD’s priority for vehicle flow and its inability to embrace slower, more people-oriented, street solutions. Whether the issue is restrictive standards for bicycle facility design – such as banning sharrows with green paint backgrounds or most contraflow bicycle lanes or restrictive standards for the use of colored paint such as community-driven crosswalk designs, green bike lanes, or red transit lanes or keeping old standards for setting speed limits such as 85th percentile method based on free traffic flow – the root cause is an MUTCD that believes vehicle flow is a priority and that roads are better when they are designed to be understood by drivers traveling at high speeds rather than accessible to people using all modes of transportation sharing the same roads.

To move forward – to “build back better” – and reduce traffic violence that is far too common and accepted in the United States, the MUTCD needs to prioritize safety and the accessibility and use of roads by all people, moving by all types of transportation. The “notorious” MUTCD has been recognized as a barrier to safer, Bicycle Friendly Communities and I hope that you join us in commenting to make sure the U.S. transportation system meets our vision for the future where everyone can safely and comfortably enjoy and access their community by bike.

TAKE ACTION NOW AND ADD YOUR VOICE IN SUPPORT OF THE LEAGUE’S COMMENTS

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