Friday, August 9, 2013

Transportation officials dispute my one-way theory

When I wrote last month about the surprising (to me) prominence of one-way streets uptown on the city's High Accident List, aka HAL ("One-way to higher traffic accidents?") , I said I had asked for a response to my observation from Transportation Director Danny Pleasant. He responded today. Here's what he said: 

Mary – Sorry it took a while to respond. I was in one of your favorite cities, Boston, earlier this week. It could not have been more beautiful. I explored the city on foot along two incredibly vibrant one-way streets: Boylston and Newberry. I’m not sure it would be possible to create more robustness, regardless of whether the streets were one-way or two.

Here is information regarding Charlotte’s one-way streets, prepared by Debbie Self, a talented engineer in charge of CDOT’s traffic and pedestrian safety programs:

“It’s fair to say there is not a significant safety concern with one-way streets. In uptown, there are roughly 150 intersections (100 are signalized and 50 are unsignalized). Of that total, the majority of intersections involve at least 1 one-way street. So one could say most of the intersections in uptown that have one-way streets are not on the HAL. There are 15 uptown locations (defined as inside the I-277 loop) on the 2013 HAL.

Other noteworthy comments:
  • Uptown collisions tend to involve fewer injuries because the travel speeds are much lower. Injury rates are not reflected in the HAL.

  • A few of the Uptown locations rose to the top 10 based on more accurate traffic volume counts. The updated traffic counts were lower which resulted in a higher ranking on the HAL (the crashes by year remained about the same). Some of last year’s top 10 locations moved down because of higher volumes or a safety enhancement was completed.

  • 5th/Caldwell had fewer crashes in 2012 because CDOT installed reflective back plates on the traffic signals to address angle crashes.

  • College Street in the areas of 7th, 8th & 9th Streets has been on the HAL for many years. It’s been hard to pin point a single underlying cause. Angle crashes account for about half of the crashes at College and 7th, 8th and 9th. CDOT will likely consider reflective back plates at the signals as a mitigation given our successful reduction in crashes at 5th/Caldwell.

  • The HAL is published annually to raise awareness of intersections with an elevated crash rate. It is a tool to identify location that have potential opportunity for mitigation of crashes and/or reduction in the severity of crashes.
Distractions/not paying attention continue to be the highest contributing circumstance for all crashes. That’s true for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. We want to emphasize keeping your mind on the task at hand – walking, driving, or biking.”