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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:22 pm
by wangell
In attempts at making routes more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, we continuously encounter the problem of engineers afraid to go against NACTO and AASHTO standards (and they have to legally abide by ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance which places crossing buttons in poor locations, ripples on ramps, etc.).

NACTO recently added some bicycling infrastructure to their standards (, but these are, IMO, quite poor standards. Angie Schmitt hailed this on Streetsblog ( ... ign-guide/) as "a significant step forward for American bike infrastructure", though I'm not quite so sure. Perhaps a brief period of bad infrastructure is better than no infrastructure, though it could also bite us in the arse when people yell "see, we put in all of this infrastructure and nobody uses it.' Well, I don't know of any parent who would allow their child to use a bike box in the middle of traffic, two-stage turn queue box in the middle of traffic, or a bike lane positioned between to motor vehicle lanes on a 45 mph roadway.

So, how do we fix NACTO and AASHTO? How do we get them to include elements of NL's CROW?

Re: Fixing NACTO & AASHTO ?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:21 am
by davidhembrow
NACTO is quite awful. Mark Wagenbuur criticised some parts of it some time ago and quite right too. Similarly, I wrote a longer critique of a recent Canadian standard and plans for Los Angeles which guarantee failure.

Unfortunately, it seems the same people or at least the same companies are often involved in writing up standards for North America, so it is perhaps unsurprising that these plans and standards continue to show the same problems. Rather than looking towards successful countries and emulating them, the people employed to write the standards look towards what they see as similar nations.

Just consulting CROW isn't enough. The authors of these standards claim to have done so. The problem with CROW is that it can't give context. A Dutch person reading the manuals won't interpret it in the same way as someone who has not lived in The Netherlands. Much of what is in the CROW standards is treated as a minimum by the Dutch (i.e. widths, how much traffic is required before segregating) while people trying to interpret it elsewhere without this knowledge will get it wrong. What's more, the "voice" of CROW is passive. It never tells you why one solution is preferred over another or why. There is also a lot which is missing from CROW. e.g. the most successful design for traffic light junctions. We try to help out and provide context by running study tours to explain this, but I'm afraid that no-one responsible for NACTO has ever been on our tours.

Re: Fixing NACTO & AASHTO ?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:18 pm
by wangell
I agree David. However, even CROW minimums would be a huge leap from what is considered newest and best practice in the U.S. today. Local and state planners and traffic engineers are almost all afraid to go against NACTO and AASHTO. How do we change this? How do we either get AASHTO and NACTO updated or how do we get states to begin saying that NACTO and AASHTO are antiquated and so develop their own infrastructure standards? And, along with this, how do we convince vehicular cyclists that what might be good for them is quite awful for 98% of the population and will never get more people, particularly school kids, riding?