betacity


the transportation engineering profession’s historical disdain for the pedestrian
October 2, 2012, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Cities, streets, Transit | Tags: , , ,

Another quotation from an excellent series on why we don’t walk by Tom Vanderbilt at Slate:  his description of the anesthetic processes used by traffic engineers to diminish the importance of people … who happen to be walking:

And since our uncommon commitment to the car is at least in part to blame for the new American inability to put one foot in front of the other, the transportation engineering profession’s historical disdain for the pedestrian is all that much more pernicious. In modern traffic engineering the word has become institutionalized, by engineers who shorten pedestrian to the somehow even more condescending “peds”; who for years have peppered their literature with phrases like “pedestrian impedance” (meaning people getting in the way of vehicle flow). In early versions of traffic modeling software, pedestrians were not included as a default, and even today, as one report notes, modeling software tends to treat them not as actual actors, but as a mere “statistical distribution”, or as implicit “vehicular delay.” At traffic conferences like the one in Savannah, meanwhile, people doing “ped projects” tend to be a small and insular, if well meaning, clique.

The Crisis in American Walking, Tom Vanderbilt, Slate

 

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