Federal Transportation Manual Update a Chance for Improvement

After 11 years, the federal transportation manual is getting an update to reflect the rise of autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, and modernized pedestrian infrastructure.

February 17, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Zebra crossing

pixabay.com / Zebra crossing

The Federal Highway Administration has extended the public comment period for its update of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The manual, which hasn't been updated since 2009, "sets federal standards for the signs, markings and signals that help instruct road users on how to safely move through our communities."

As reported by Kea Wilson in Streetsblog, advocates hope that the revised manual will take into account new programs and mobility options such as bike share, scooters, and autonomous cars and implement higher standards for protecting vulnerable users. Rather than prioritize vehicle throughput above safety, planner Don Kostelec told Streetsblog, the manual should include the highest standards for safety at crosswalks and other vulnerable interaction points.

The main reason for the manual's upcoming revision seems to be the rise of autonomous vehicles, "which rely on regular road markings to navigate complex road environments," but some of these changes may work in favor of bike advocates. For example, the revised manual calls for bike facilities to be "segregated from other vehicle traffic using physical barriers where practicable and that road markings are needed to denote the end of a bike lane that is merged with traffic" in order to accommodate "machine vision." Such policy changes in manuals like the MUTCD, argues BikeUtah program director Mike Wiltsie, is "the best way we can bring about systemic change in our streets."

Monday, February 8, 2021 in Streetsblog USA

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