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.

2 minute read

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

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Brick high-rise apartment buildings in New York City

Study: Housing Crisis is About Affordability, not Supply

New research shows that there is no overall shortage of housing units, but all U.S. metropolitan areas face a severe lack of affordable units for low-income renters.

5 hours ago - University of Kansas

Couple on one side of desk with banker on other side looking at paperwork.

Are Race-Based Lawsuits Affecting Community Lenders?

Shelterforce spoke with community lending leaders and experts about the current mood across the sector. What, if anything, are organizations doing to avoid becoming the next target of conservative activists?

6 hours ago - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of Glory Park in Lewisville, Texas.

New Park Promotes Community and Connectivity in Lewisville, Texas

The city of Lewisville just celebrated the opening of Glory Park/Parque la Gloria, helping to improve park access and the quality of life for residents.

7 hours ago - Lewisville Leader

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.