Transportation Summit host touts street design-safety links

Street design goes far beyond traffic “throughput” or aesthetics alone; strong links between street design and public safety must be recognized and incorporated into everyday traffic engineering work.

That message, delivered by Marcy McInelly to traffic engineers at the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium’s Oregon Transportation Summit on Sept. 11, foreshadows themes of the Congress for the New Urbanism’s own Transportation Summit 2009, Nov. 4-6 in Portland, Ore.

“We’re all concerned about safety,” said McInelly, an associate principal at SERA Architects, and the host of CNU’s Summit. “Many of the things urban designers are trying to create in a street environment will make them safer. We should all be working together.

“It’s about safety and CNU is really on the forefront of this movement.”

McInelly highlighted the CNU/ITE manual, Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities, and the Emergency Response & Street Design Initiative – both of which call for greater recognition that street design, including width, inextricably affects public safety.

Her presentation was part of the 4-hour “Safety ‘Smackdown’” session at the Oregon Transportation Summit, which focused on the issues – both resolved and remaining – of design standards for safety including: research on safety in the roadside to the challenges of collecting data on road and traffic safety, to better ways of measuring safety data in decision-making regarding regional road network planning. (Also speaking were Beth Wemple of Kittelson Associates, Chris Monsere of Portland State University, Josh Naramore and Anthony Butzek of Metro, and Karen Dixon and Ida van Schalkwyk of Oregon State University.)

McInelly said participants were largely unaware of Context Sensitive Solutions, but agreed the idea of designing streets to the speeds at which we want people to drive is worth further discussion. Moreover, she added, at least half of the session’s audience (herself included) readily agreed to meet on a regular basis.

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium is one of 60 “University Transportation Centers” established by Congress in 2005, and one of just 10 such centers designated as a national center. The Consortium “supports innovations in sustainable transportation through Advanced Technology, Integration of Land Use and Transportation, and Healthy Communities.”


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