New Federal Policy
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policy document titled
Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel: A Recommended Approach
substantiates MTS' statements explaining why pedestrians and bicycles were prohibited from "expressways"
--where County highway engineers legally could or pretended they could--
and why they currently oppose removing "pedestrians prohibited" signs. And, it describes unsafe actions by Roads and Airports.
Quotes from the FHWA document (with boldface added by MTS):
For most of the second half of the 20th Century, the transportation, traffic engineering and highway professions in the United States were synonymous.
They shared a singular purpose: building a transportation system that promoted the safety, convenience and comfort of motor vehicles.
- Facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians, environmental mitigation, accessibility, community preservation, and aesthetics were at best an afterthought,
often simply overlooked, and, at worst, rejected as unnecessary, costly, and regressive.
The additional "burden" of having to find space for pedestrians and bicyclists was rejected as impossible in many communities
because of space and funding constraints and a perceived lack of demand. There was also anxiety about encouraging an activity that
many felt to be dangerous and fraught with liability issues. Designers continued to design from the centerline out and often simply ran out of space
before bike lanes, paved shoulders, sidewalks and other "amenities" could be included.
During the 1990s, Congress spearheaded a movement towards a transportation system that favors people and goods over motor vehicles
with passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (1991) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998).
The call for more walkable, liveable, and accessible communities, has seen bicycling and walking emerge as an "indicator species" for the
health and well-being of a community. People want to live and work in places where they can safely and conveniently walk and/or bicycle.
The challenge for transportation planners, highway engineers and bicycle and pedestrian user groups, therefore, is ... to develop a
transportation infrastructure that provides access for all, a real choice of modes, and safety in equal measure for each mode of travel.
- Paved shoulders have safety and operational advantages for all road users in addition to providing a place for bicyclists and pedestrians to operate.
What MTS has been saying for years:
It is cheaper to post a prohibitory
sign than to provide a sidewalk or bike lane in future lane addition projects by forgoing relocation of existing shoulder and/or sidewalk facilities.
To legitimize this action, County highway engineers
claim that ALL shoulders are unsafe and try to prohibit users from ALL existing
"expressway" shoulders --or pretend they are prohibited even where they are not.
An example is their February 2004 staff report.
Even where no future lanes are planned, for consistency, they oppose pedestrian --and previously-- bicycle use of ALL existing shoulders,
no matter how wide.
A simple comparison with many other local arterial roads of similar speed limits (40 to 50 mph) --and
suburban State roads of Caltrans--
show that shoulders are very common for pedestrian and bicycle use.
Many of these roads have the same speed limit as "expressways" --usually 45 mph.
The report, Conflict of Transportation Competitors, an unfamiliar history of Bay Area transportation,
predates the FHWA document by about ten years.
What was described in the FHWA document, and foretold by MTS, actually occurred on Santa Clara County "expressways":
The destruction of pedestrian and bicycle facilities as described by FHWA (above) actually did occur on
portions of Lawrence, San Tomas and Montague Expressways.
In every case --without exception-- it occurred where pedestrians were allowed. Either
"pedestrians prohibited" signs had been removed years earlier (Lawrence in Santa Clara) or the signs never existed on the roadway
(Montague --formerly Trimble Rd.-- and southern San Tomas --formerly Camden Ave.).
This demonstrates the lack of concern for true pedestrian safety by the Roads and Airports Department,
including the recent fight on Montague.
In other words, Roads and Airports Department falsely claims shoulders are "unsafe" --for political purposes--
yet has no qualms about forcing pedestrians to use the traffic lane itself
-- a truly unsafe situation.
MTS successfully fought for the restoration
of these facilities (with a few locations still remaining on Montague Expressway).
home page |
about MTS |
HOV lanes |
Bay Bridge |
Allow Pedestrians! |