Opinion: What American Transportation Engineering Gets Wrong

And how transportation decisions could more effectively prioritize safety.

1 minute read

March 13, 2024, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Bird-s eye view of multi-lane road intersection with medians and crosswalks.

artiom.photo / Adobe Stock

Writing in Streetsblog San Francisco, Roger Rudick describes the view of a transportation engineer working in the Netherlands, who says the American approach to transportation engineering contributes to our high number of road deaths and poor pedestrian infrastructure.

According to transportation engineer Steffen Berr, “the American transportation system is fundamentally broken because ‘transportation engineering’ is a specialty within civil engineering when it's really a separate field. They think ‘transportation engineering is just where the paint goes. They don't know what transportation infrastructure actually is.’”

For Berr, “It's why cities continue to widen streets or refuse to implement lane reductions that would actually reduce traffic congestion.” And “It's why American DOTs violate fundamental principles of safety, such as isolating the largest vehicles from the smallest and most vulnerable to the extent it's possible, and limiting speed with infrastructure wherever it's not.”

Berr says it’s not that the Dutch don’t complain about loss of parking. But engineers there take a more collectivist approach. Berr says “his responsibility as a European transportation engineer is to provide a street for everyone, not one for car throughput and parking, with every other consideration made secondary.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2024 in Streetsblog San Francisco

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