On Tuesday, Aug 27th a U.S. Department of Transportation expelled a breeze vital devise for open comment. The 94-page request lays out how a U.S. Department of Transportation proposes to conduct a transport complement for a subsequent 5 years — running a work of some 57,000 sovereign employees and heavily conversion some $205 billion of annual spending on highways in this country.

The criticism duration closes September 10. That’s right, two whole weeks – including a 3-day Labor Day weekend – to criticism on a profoundly critical request that’s been underneath inner growth given early Spring. That’s a scandalously brief duration for open comment. (You can review a comments on a breeze vital devise here.)

The confidant pretension of a plan, “Transportation for a New Generation,” suggests some sparkling changes and a new direction… and a numbers are positively there in a devise to behind adult a wilful new transport strategy. Consider:

  • 32,367 people were killed in trade crashes in 2011
  • Driver function causes or contributes to 90% of crashes
  • The mercantile costs of trade crashes –- in 2000 -– was $230 billion
  • One-third of American’s do not drive
  • The U.S. race is approaching to boost from 310 million in 2010 to 335 million in 2018 and 439 million by 2050
  • Traffic overload creates a $121 billion annual empty on a U.S. economy
  • The normal American adult aged 25-54 drives 12,700 miles a year and spends one month in their automobile any year; and any automobile costs $7,658 to buy, contend and operate
  • Cars and trucks are obliged for 83% transportation-related hothouse gas emissions, that are 27% of sum U.S. hothouse gas emissions. U.S. hothouse gas emissions have augmenting 21% given 1990 — 60% of that boost is due to transportation.

That all positively points to a need for a new instruction in transport –- these problems are huge, a costs are staggering, and we’ve got $205 billion annually to spend on highways alone to do something about these problems.

Alas, that’s not what “Transportation for a New Generation” offers. Not during all.

To be fair, there are some carefree numbers in a plan.

  • Traffic fatalities have declined 25% given 2006 as car miles of transport have declined by 2 percent
  • People vital in compact, walkable counties are expected to transport more, import reduction and are reduction expected to humour from hypertension than people vital in some-more sprawling counties
  • 11.9% of all trips are done by feet or bike, an boost of 25% given 2001
  • Roughly 40% of all trips in civil areas are dual miles or less

So maybe a vital devise that focuses on shortening car miles trafficked (VMT), formulating some-more compact, walkable communities, and augmenting a share of brief trips done by feet or bike competence be a good thought for all kinds of reasons? Apparently not.

Instead, USDOT has offering adult a frighteningly restored and vision-less vital devise for a subsequent 5 years. There are no genuine targets or opening measures that plea a standing quo or do anything to residence a ongoing safety, performance, environmental and equity issues that are so deeply embedded in a “transportation” agencies and their programs.  

Safety is a series one thought of a group -– “Our tip priority is to make a US transport complement a safest in a world” –- and nonetheless no discuss is done of how a United States compares to other countries. Spoiler alert: We’re acrobatics down a general joining table.

There are 18 extended reserve strategies over dual pages and a word “speed” doesn’t seem once.  The primary USDOT joining to shortening bicyclist and walking fatalities and injuries is: “Encourage states to adopt policies and programs that urge walking and bicyclist safety.” Seriously, it says that.

The miss of a specific reserve aim -– “towards 0 deaths” for example, or “vision zero” -– is striking. The usually opening magnitude offering uses crashes per hundred million miles of car transport as a metric. For years, a clearly indomitable arise in car miles trafficked masked any genuine swell in shortening crashes and enables USDOT to contend to this day “we have done good progress” in improving trade safety. Obviously that’s flattering invalid for measuring bicyclist safety, and has been totally overshadowed by a fact that if we indeed revoke VMT, even a small little bit, trade crashes (and congestion) plummet.

Remember, a 25% decrease in trade crashes matches adult roughly accurately with a 2% dump in VMT in a past 5 years. There’s no devise to revoke VMT.

There are visit references to bill constraints, rising costs, backlogs of investment, etc., etc. And nonetheless in a unequivocally same divide a request says initial that “all levels of supervision spent a sum $205 billion for highway-related functions in 2010” and afterwards “estimates of a sum investment indispensable to residence a remaining deficiencies in all existent highway and overpass resources ranges from $72.9 billion to $78.3 billion annually by 2030.” My math isn’t that great, though we consider we can see a approach to repair a highways and bridges, good before 2030.

Economic competitiveness is focused heavily on burden issues and congestion. Yet there is no aim to revoke VMT or boost other mode shares; there is no doubt possibly a fact that 87% of newcomer miles are trafficked by cars and light trucks is a good thing or not. There’s a good territory of a devise on Livable Communities with all a right language, though there’s no tie done between mercantile competitiveness or reserve and bearable communities. The thought of collaborating with housing and environmental insurance agencies is excellent, though Federal Highways, Federal Transit, and NHTSA need to be operative with a unaccompanied purpose as well!

Health and earthy activity is roughly totally absent as an issue, that seems intolerable in this day and age. Equity is mentioned in passing. The whole request seems vigilant on preserving a standing quo that isn’t delivering for stream generations, let alone new or destiny generations of Americans.

I hear we ask: “Does a request like this unequivocally matter?”  Well, yes. This vital devise guides a annual workplans of any of a modal administrations in USDOT. In turn, these beget a metrics, milestones and opening measures by that 57,000 employees are eventually graded any year. Which is why, even with a window of usually a few days, it’s critical to get some comments in on this breeze vital plan.

There are dual ways to make comments, one is to attend in a online dialogue . There are already some suggestions on a site recommending a opening thought — toward 0 death, Complete Streets, and some-more importance on non-motorized travel. You can possibly support those or write your own. 

We also suggest submitting a minute with some-more minute suggestions and directly respond to a devise — we can review a criticism minute here.  This is critical as a online discourse does not lend itself to suggesting specific changes to a plan, or numerical or quantifiable goals. You can use a League’s comments to a devise as a beam when essay your comment. (Submit comments to USDOTStrategicPlan@dot.gov )

Please take a impulse to register a criticism or dual –- and remember, as FHWA likes to say: Every day counts. Really, we’ve usually got til Septembe10 to get those comments in.