Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Federal (FHWA) Performance Measures Ignore Bicycling

Time to raise Hell with government again.

Here is the link to the League of American Bicyclists post on proposed FHWA rules. There is an internal link on that page to send a NastyGram to the Feds. Please do so.

What follows is my letter to Transportation Secretary Fox.

Dear Transportation Secretary Fox

I am writing to endorse the comments submitted to Docket # FHWA-2013-0020 by the League of American Bicyclists.

I believe that performance measures on our transportation system should include measures that reflect all users - including bicyclists and pedestrians. Specifically I'd like to comment on three of the performance measures in this rule.

National Highway System (NHS) Performance
In the FAST Act, Congress made clear that states must consider all modes and users in the building and reconstruction of NHS projects. However, this rule proposes to measure reliability of the system by travel time for motor vehicles ONLY.

The reliability of the NHS must include a measure for ALL users. For bicyclists and pedestrians reliability should be measured by safe access on NHS roads using metrics that use sound bicycle transportation engineering methodologies.

Congestion Mitigation
The rule proposes that congestion mitigation be measured by delay for drivers. It fails to measure people not adding to that congestion because they are biking, walking or taking transit.  Also, if congestion mitigation means building more travel lanes, this has always been shown to be a long term failure. We need to change the modes, not cater to single occupant vehicle operators.

Many states and metropolitan areas have goals to reduce congestion by reducing vehicle miles traveled and/or to increase mode share for bicycling, walking and transit use. To make this rule more compatible with these goals, a new measure should be added to account for people traveling by modes that reduce congestion: HOVs, transit, bicycling and walking.

Mobile Source Emissions
I support the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions both from tailpipes and from construction of new projects. The transportation system is responsible for 23 percent of the country's emissions, and in order to meet the goals and commitments made at the Paris COP we need to start measuring and reducing emissions. In addition, high GHG emissions will undoubtedly correlate with other emissions that are of an immediate health effect such as ground level ozone.

I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the rule, and support the move to a performance-based transportation system.

I hope the final performance measures will reflect the Secretary's leadership to serve all users of the transportation system.

Thank you very much.


Steve A said...

I'm not sure I agree that attempting to tie this to greenhouse gas reduction is a slam dunk. IMO, the BIGGEST negative of encouragement for people to continue operating large, fast, heavy vehicles is the space and toll they take on society. That would remain even if all vehicles were electric and fueled by cheap fusion power. Actually, the problem might get even worse since operating such vehicles would be even cheaper than at present. The Strong Towns Blog would probably agree with me. Seattle probably would be better NOT to build that giant tunnel, as the previous mayor pointed out repeatedly.

Steve A said...

Entirely by coincidence, I decided to update my "links" page and noticed that Ian Walker (the guy who claimed motorists pass closer when cyclists are wearing helmets), has a related post up and it shows the many negative effects of electric vehicles EVEN IF they were able to be used without increasing CO2 emissions. The post is at http://bamboobadger.blogspot.com/2016/03/electric-cars-wont-save-our-cities.html

Khal said...

EVs are a false carbon savings, as in most cases their actual carbon footprint is pretty high when you factor in construction and shipping costs, battery fabrication, ultimate source of electricity (in many cases being fossil derived) etc. I agree with you for the most part.

HC emissions cause more deaths than crashes, so if EVs are used instead of gasoline vehicles, this could potentially mitigate in cities, unless all those EVs are powered by hydrocarbon based utility power generation. Turns out one reason I might have had such bad asthma in grad school was that Long Island was a hotspot for ground level ozone.

Overall, I think there is no free lunch.