The Keys to Transportation Safety

By Dom Nozzi

The key to creating safer intersections, roads, and streets is to move away from the century-long engineering practice of using “forgiving design.”

It is also essential for us to understand the counterproductive nature of calling for a reduction in traffic congestion or urging our officials to “ease traffic flow.” Both of these measures (which are such a consensus in our society that even cyclists, pedestrian advocates, and transit promoters also counterproductively call for such things) lead to a dangerous oversizing of road/parking/intersection infrastructure, and the use of high-speed road geometries.

By far, the best way to achieve transportation safety is to design roads and intersections for slower speeds – the opposite of “forgiving” design.

It is not a coincidence, by the way, that a growing number of cities are joining the “slow cities” movement

And a big part of slower speed transportation design (and, therefore, more safety) comes from road diets, which involves removing excess travel lanes, as was done so spectacularly well on Main Street in my home city of Greenville SC. Such diets also include reducing travel lane widths (which can be quickly and inexpensively done whenever streets are re-striped). and shrinking the size and turning radius of intersections.

There is also an important need for converting one-way streets back to two-way operation.

Far too much space has been allocated to easing car travel and car parking. This has infected our cities with the gigantism disease — a disease that results in much less safety, much less prosperity, much less civic pride, much more sprawl, much less human scale, and much lower quality of life.

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