May Inspirations

A New Tool to Tackle Speed

The shocking rise in traffic fatalities during the pandemic, particularly pedestrian deaths, has put speed in the safety spotlight. A timely resource published this month by the World Resources Institute provides fresh new guidance for cities on creating low-speed zones, which have emerged as one of the most promising strategies for speed management. The Low-Speed Zone Guide says WRI, “presents strategies for planning, designing, building, and evaluating low-speed zones, and intends to equip communities and decision-makers with the tools to implement low-speed zones that will suit their specific context.”

Toole Design helped gather international best practices from countries including Colombia, Tanzania, Turkey, and Brazil; developed graphics and text for the final report; and provided a technical review of the content. The Guide was launched with a high-level international panel of speakers from WRI, the World Bank, the European Union, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Guide confirms that physical traffic calming measures and target speeds of 30kph (18mph) or lower have the greatest proven safety benefits, and that stakeholder engagement, site selection, evaluation, and local flexibility are key considerations for implementation. Jim Elliott, one of Toole Design’s main contributors to the project notes, “the guide is important because it takes WRI’s previous guide, Sustainable and Safe, which highlights the role of speed in traffic safety, and provides specific planning steps and design treatments that communities can use to lower speeds in a defined area. And not just planning, but also design, construction, and evaluation–the whole shebang.”

Designing Crossings for Neighborhood Greenways

The City of Seattle has cut the ribbon on several Neighborhood Greenways in the last 18 months, showcasing a wide variety of ways in which safer, calmer residential streets can be connected by greenway crossings of major roads. Toole Design staff have been closely involved in several stages of the design work for the projects, prompting Craig Schoenberg, PE to remark that “it’s increasingly rewarding to bike around the city and it’s hard to avoid coming across projects we’ve worked on.”

The Northgate Neighborhood Greenway, for example, connects residents to local schools, parks, and businesses as well as the citywide transportation network, including the Northgate light rail station. The pictured crossing, which just opened, provides a very visible, signal-controlled crossing of NE Northgate Way for greenway users to access local parks, a library, the Northgate Mall and the future light rail station. The project introduces protected left turns, a marked bike crossing, rebuilt safety medians, and additional signals to help people cross on foot and by bike. Toole Design did the alternatives analysis, public facing graphics, and early construction document design.

The King Street Neighborhood Greenway features two crossings of challenging arterial roadways: 12th Avenue S and Rainier Avenue S. In contrast to the previous example, these two intersection designs route cyclists to protected crossings to the right of motor vehicle traffic, on short sections of raised cycle track or expanded sidewalk. The crossings are highly visible and create a more attractive route with lower motor vehicle speeds than a parallel road. Once again, Toole Design did the alternatives analysis, public facing graphics, and early construction document design.

The Central Ridge Neighborhood Greenway connects to the King Street corridor and includes a new signalized crossing of a busy roadway, Jackson Street, where motor vehicles are restricted to right turns only. People on bikes are able to continue straight across the intersection from a travel lane to the left of right-turning traffic. “You can really see that these projects are starting to connect the network,” says Schoenberg. “We are excited to be working on similar neighborhood greenway projects in Victoria, BC, Denver, CO, and several cities in the State of Washington. We have now designed a wide variety of solutions to help people navigate difficult intersections that might otherwise dissuade them from walking or riding; they stitch the community together very effectively.”

Toole Design Appoints Los Angeles Director and Northeast Planning Director

Roger Pelayo and Jeff Rosenblum's HeadshotsThis month, Toole Design welcomes Roger (Rogelio) Pelayo who has been appointed as the Los Angeles Office Director. Roger has nearly 15 years’ experience with multimodal planning in the southern California region where he has completed more than 25 multimodal plans, more than 250 walking assessments, and dozens of traffic studies and community workshops. Proficient in Spanish, he led outreach activities at his previous company, and has excellent meeting and workshop facilitation skills in both English and Spanish. “We are so excited to welcome Roger to Toole Design; we have a talented team of professionals in Los Angeles who are going to benefit from his leadership, contacts, and experience in the region,” says Jennifer Toole, President of Toole Design.

Meanwhile back East, Jeffrey Rosenblum, PE, has come on board to serve as our Northeast Planning Director based in the Boston office. Jeff will oversee planning staff and projects in the Northeast and Canada. “We’re thrilled to have Jeff join our team,” says Nick Jackson, Vice President of Toole Design. “He brings a wealth of experience in policy, planning, and project management and he has extensive local project knowledge and contacts throughout Boston area and beyond. His influence has been pivotal in creating more livable communities, and his passion for our work runs deep. In addition, Jeff has a background and experience in transit, which will complement our growing transit practice.”

Insights

  • On the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, Jennifer Toole shared her thoughts on the progress the industry is making towards building a more equitable and just society.
  • Megan Eby reports that the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Colorado Chapter’s Marketing Excellence Awards saw Toole Design take home not one but TWO awards in May. Toole Design won the Brand Awareness category for The New Es campaign as well as the Brochure category for a promotional piece launching the campaign at the NACTO conference in Toronto.
  • Research Practice Lead Stefanie Brodie has been appointed to the board of the Shared-Use Mobility Center, alongside some powerhouse transportation policy thought leaders. The Center is “dedicated to achieving equitable, affordable, and environmentally sound mobility across the U.S. through the efficient sharing of transportation assets.”
  • Cipriana Thompson Eckford, Mid-Atlantic Regional Operations Director, just wrapped up a 3-part webinar series for ITE, COMTO and WTS focusing on partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The series was an excellent guide for our industry in how to build mutually beneficial relationships with HBCUs with the goal of bringing a new generation of talented engineers into our profession.
    Links to the series are below.
    Part 1:  Telling the Story:  HBCU Engineering Programs
    Part 2: Fruits of the Vine: The Role & Importance of HBCU Alumni (Passcode: Gz9Qn0U@)
    Part 3: Partnerships & Opportunities: Advancing the Relationships Between the Transportation Industry and HBCUs (Passcode: COMTO3HBCU!)
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