An Equitable Approach to Rebalancing Streets
Toole Design has published a new Resource Guide to help transportation professionals use an equity framework to guide decisions about rebalancing streets in favor of active transportation. The topic of rebalancing streets came to the fore in 2020 in the immediate aftermath of the global coronavirus pandemic – the Guide links to examples around the world including Bogota where the city opened its streets up for people; Paris, where the City dramatically expanded walking and biking infrastructure; and North American communities such as Oakland, Denver, Toronto, and Washington, DC that implemented “Slow Streets” programs.
However, the Guide notes that while street rebalancing offers a lot of social, health, environmental, and transportation benefits, transportation professionals have an ethical responsibility to ensure that our streets are safe and welcoming for everyone – and that deep inequities exist within our transportation system. The Guide provides a brief history of redlining, urban renewal, urban highway building, and gentrification, to frame street rebalancing within the context of these inequities.
This document acknowledges that transportation professionals have a unique opportunity to center policy and program decisions around ethics, equity, and empathy – and to undo racist policies that created or are preserving an inequitable transportation system. A series of 14 specific strategies are presented to equip planners, designers, and engineers with the knowledge necessary to make wise, equitable choices around rebalancing streets. The goal is to increase the likelihood that the many beneficial outcomes of rebalanced streets are realized in underserved and underinvested communities.
New NCHRP Report on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety at Major Intersections
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program has published a detailed guide to pedestrian and bicyclist safety at “alternative and other intersections,” otherwise known as Diverging Diamond, Restricted Crossing U-Turn, Displaced Left Turn, and Median U-Turn intersections. The full title of NCHRP Report #948 is: Guide for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety at Alternative and Other Intersections and Interchanges. Toole Design staff were part of a consultant team led by Kittelson Associates for this project. Our role was to develop design strategies to improve safety for active transportation users who must navigate these complex intersections.
The Guide describes 20 “flags” or challenges with detailed elements of the intersection designs, and documents potential ways to eliminate or minimize the issues flagged for people on foot and bike. For each intersection type, the report identifies factors that affect the safety and convenience of nonmotorized users, as well as areas of potential conflict with motor vehicles and with the purpose of the intersection design itself. The report encourages the consideration of nonmotorized safety elements throughout the design process.
Jim Sebastian Joins Toole Design
We are pleased to announce that Jim Sebastian has joined Toole Design as a Senior Planner, following a distinguished career with the District [of Columbia] Department of Transportation (DDOT) and regional planning agencies in the DC area. Jim spent six years as a planner with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments before joining the District of Columbia transportation department as a Bicycle Program Specialist in 2001. He recently retired from DDOT as the Associate Director for Planning and Sustainability, a role in which he oversaw a broad range of active transportation and traffic safety programs in the nation’s capital.
“We are excited to welcome Jim to the team,” said Jennifer Toole. “He brings a wealth of agency experience and real-word implementation skills to our team. He was my very first client when I started Toole Design and it has been a joy to see him move up through the ranks at DDOT and to witness his amazing accomplishments there. We’re delighted to be able to offer his significant expertise to our clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic, as well as in other regions of North America.”
- Toole Design is commemorating Engineers Week this year with a look at projects and people that contribute to our extensive engineering practice, beginning with this overview of our engineering team members.
- Stefanie Brodie, PhD, Research Practice Lead, was part of a distinguished panel of thought leaders who shared their insights into the deep, systemic changes that are happening to push the transportation system towards sustainability and equity…as part of a discussion hosted by the Shared Use Mobility Center. Watch the Transportation Inflection Reflection here.
- Who’s On First? Adam Wood is On First, a podcast hosted by the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa to shine a light on the future of First Avenue in the city’s downtown. In this episode, Senior Planner Adam Wood, AICP discusses different transit options for revitalizing the corridor, based on scenario planning around transit investment and development impacts.
- Megan Wooley-Ousdahl, AICP was a featured speaker on the Strong Towns Local-Motive Tour on February 11, presenting on effective community engagement with Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns. Single courses or the entire tour can be purchased here.
- Andy Clarke, Director of Strategy, scores a minor credit as a “contributor” to the latest “must read” book compiled and edited by Professors Ralph Buehler and John Pucher. Cycling for Sustainable Cities, published by The MIT Press, is a 440-page deep-dive into global cycling policy, with profound and immediate lessons for U.S. cities.