Member response to the NMA’s April 13th email alert and last week’s newsletter, All Hands on Deck, #640, has been tremendous. This grassroots campaign is focused on convincing the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that key components of its planned update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) will make the roads less, not more, safe and significantly less drivable. That latter part seems intentional.
Over 90 percent, nearly 200, of the comments added to the public record for the proposed FHWA rule change in the few days since the NMA alert was issued have been in opposition to the agency’s recommendation to minimize the importance of data analysis in setting proper speed limits. You can read those comments, and add your own if you haven’t already, here. Responses are accepted until May 14th.
The same response rate is needed now to address another alarming aspect of the proposed changes to the MUTCD: How and when all-way stop signs are used. Where the current requirement is to post all-way stops by exception and only with justification by data analysis, the new FHWA guidelines to local traffic engineers would be to add all-way stop signs at intersections if the mere presence of pedestrians or bicyclists is anticipated. This NMA April 20th alert explains how the new rules could lead to a proliferation of disruptive, all-way stops instead of two-way stops or yield signs at non-signalized intersections. Environmentalists should be at the front of the line objecting to the rule change that would cause tens of millions of cars to stop and reaccelerate needlessly many times daily, burning more fuel and generating more carbon emissions.
Chris DiPrima, NMA Board Members, posted this comment on the docket for the proposed rule:
“Regarding stop sign guidance under Section 2B of the proposed MUTCD: On safety grounds, I oppose any weakening of the engineering standards regarding the implementation of stop signs.
“I live in San Francisco, a city where almost every neighborhood street is controlled by a 4-way stop. All that this has done is lead to widespread disobedience of stop signs because one can be reasonably certain that 99% of stop signs will have neither crossing vehicles nor crossing pedestrians. It also leads to no end of frustration for drivers and cyclists alike (since cyclists generally ignore unnecessary stop signs). Implementing more unnecessary stop signs will only increase disrespect for stop signs.
“Removing the requirement to conduct traffic studies means that stop signs without justification will become even more prevalent. People will decide to travel via residential streets rather than keeping onto the collector and arterial streets which have been designed to handle through traffic.
“The MUTCD should require (“must”) municipalities to conduct engineering analyses before implementing new traffic signals.”
Others have added similar sentiments on the record after the latest NMA alert was published. But just as with the speed limit issue, it is going to take a large volume of personalized responses to sway the FHWA from its mission of subjugating drivers to pedestrians and bicyclists in a misguided attempt to improve safety for all.
Here, again, is the link to the site where your comments to any or all of the FHWA-proposed changes to the MUTCD can be posted. Click the blue “Comments” button and let the government agency know what you think about its plans to change speed limit and stop sign requirements.