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COLLISIONS IN STREET AND HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION
W. J. Sidis
120. Everyday Application. Traffic coordination, as a day-to-day problem for municipalities, has a field of usefulness in securing the minor changes and adjustments which tend towards the larger idealistic plan outlined above. It is hoped that the author’s suggestions under “The city plan” (234) and “The relation of the Traffic Director’s office to other municipal departments” (309) will aid further in this matter.
121. Traffic Flaw and Route Studies. Diagrams showing volume of traffic upon city streets, together with the nature and amount of turning movements, have frequently been resorted to in traffic studies. Other diagrams showing origin and destination studies of passenger movements also have an important bearing upon such matters as the development of transportation facilities, traffic safety investigations, and traffic coordination. In this connection we might also mention the accident spot maps which traffic directors usually have prepared for the study of locations of traffic accidents. One feature of the traffic survey seems to be worthy of more complete investigation, and that is the study of origins and destinations of individuals using private automobiles and taxicabs, together with route studies. This problem relates particularly to the question of congestion. It has always been assumed that the vehicle driver would choose the best route through a section of the city, and that there is neither obligation on his part to take any other route as a matter of public interest, nor that the traffic authority is expected to advise the vehicle operator as to a choice of routes. Upon a balanced street grid this freedom in choice would seem appropriate, but present-day street plats usually indicate that there is only a limited choice of routes for a large number of free-wheeled vehicles; the result is congestion, delay, and increase in hazard. Should congestion upon a favored route become so great that the advantages of the best route become negative, then traffic is expected to automatically spill over into second best choices.
It seems apparent that the traffic authority should have maps showing various routes that might be used in traversing the different sections of the city, together with information as to running times, relative hazard, volume of traffic, and other data bearing upon the availability of the routes to vehicle operators. This information would be valuable to the traffic authority in handling situations affected by vehicle congestion or extreme hazard. The same information, in appropriate form, might be imparted to the public as the basis of recommendations to vehicle operators in selecting routes which were to the public interest.
122. By-pass Highways. By-pass highways have been attracting the attention of regional planning organizations to a most important degree. This is quite in line with the suggestion that it is inexpedient for cities and towns to attempt to have all through rail or free-wheel vehicle traffic pass into or through the central part of the municipality. It is also most likely that a solution of the through traffic problem by by-pass highway methods which permit cities and towns, in effect, to withdraw to one side and disregard through traffic and appropriate connections therewith, may react unfavorably against the proper development of these urban districts. The regional planner will be obliged to see that the city street system is completely connected with the intercity highway system. Vehicular traffic should be allowed to pass through a town by a choice of several routes and not be compelled to follow a single artery to a congested center. If the driver so desires, he should be permitted to proceed along a more direct route to more distant points without the necessity of entering cities and towns which lie in his path.
123. Mass Transportation Defined. The street safety problem cannot be adequately treated without considering the subject of mass transportation rather fully. By mass transportation we mean the regular and recurrent movement of a considerable proportion of the population of a densely populated district, usually by a rapid transit system, street cars, and buses. Taxicabs and private automobiles are necessarily included in the discussion.
124. Relation of Various Types of Passenger Transportation Vehicles to Safety. From the standpoint of safety on city streets, we are led to make certain statements which form the basis of any plans we may hope to formulate. These statements are:
(a) Railwheel Vehicles Safest. Street cars and rapid transit lines do not subject their riders nor the general public to undue traffic hazards.
(b) Private Automobiles Not so Prevalent in Subway-Skyscraper District. Private automobiles do not compete to an important extent with rapid transit lines; that is, the elevated and subway lines, because in districts where these lines are required the private automobile is greatly hampered or made impossible of use by lack of street space, especially parking space.
(c) Private Automobiles Compete Primarily with Street Cars. Private automobiles compete with street cars because of certain disadvantages in the latter. These are: low schedule speed; chronically crowded conditions, and associated with these the social question (intimate mingling of entirely different social grades), fixed routes, often coupled with an uncompromising policy in limiting transfer privileges at downtown intersections, thus compelling passengers to complete journeys on foot even along streets having car lines; dangers in boarding and leaving street cars on streets subject to vehicular travel; and certain matters affecting health and comfort, such as dirt and poor ventilation.
(d) Advantages of Street Cars. Street cars have certain advantages and, when associated with bus service and favorably managed, will probably be more suitable for a large proportion of a city’s passenger transportation than private motor cars. These advantages are: economy, smoother riding, less street dust and exhaust gases, safety for passengers once they are on board, and safety for the general public. In general, rail-wheel vehicles are better adapted to high speed than free-wheel vehicles for the same degree of safety.
(e) The Congestion and Safety Problems Are Due to the Competition of the Automobile with the Street Car. The use of private automobiles and taxicabs, and the establishment of independent bus lines, and the large, motor-vehicle accident rate are due, in no small measure, to the pressure put upon the public to desert the street cars, by the disadvantages mentioned under (c).
(f) Safety Contingent upon New Methods in Street Railways. City street safety will be contingent, as one of the major items, upon the rehabilitation of service upon the street cars in order to eliminate the previously mentioned disadvantages. The following suggestions are offered in this connection.
(1) Higher schedule speeds for street cars will be possible when all traffic units are operated through the streets in accordance with scientifically designed signal systems, circuitous street car routes straightened; car exits perfected ; strap-hangers eliminated; pay and transfer methods speeded up; and traffic hazards to passengers, when boarding or leaving cars, greatly reduced. For the benefit of passengers traveling considerable distances within the city limits, a system of express cars or buses, coordinated with the local cars, seems essential, at an additional fare perhaps. Under the subject “One-way streets” (141) the author shows how tracks for express cars are to be available, but in the event that express service is to be provided under existing two-way operation, the use of speedy high-grade motor coaches would serve to transport groups of long-distance passengers with a limited number of express stops. These passengers would, in many cases, start and end their journeys upon the local cars. The express bus routes would not necessarily always follow the local routes. The reverse of the above method is also to be considered; that is to have local bus routes associated with express street cars. Crowded street cars are due to anachronistic philosophy. The rush hour has always been regarded as an abnormal condition. When it is looked upon as a normal condition, every passenger will have, and should have a seat.
(2) The social difficulty could be met by running two-car trains, with a fare differential between the cars. For instance, the fare upon the front car might be ten cents and the fare for the rear car should be about half of that for the front car, or five cents. Presumably the laborers and others would be glad to ride at reduced rates, and permit the high-fare passengers to enjoy a measure of exclusiveness, for which they would, of course, be expected to pay adequately. The two-fare train arrangement is suggested more particularly for rush-hour conditions. Another possibility in the way of social segregation may be envisioned in a street car, of which the railroad drawing-room car is the prototype. These suggestions are amplified under “Different classes of service” (324).
(3) The use of buses and a comprehensive but fair transfer system would overcome the limited route drawback of the street cars and reduce the amount of walking in the downtown part of the city, which is now often required of street car passengers. Methods of reducing dangers to passengers boarding or leaving cars are discussed under “Safe loading platforms” (146).
(4) A proposal for the use of midcity platform buses in the central business districts of large cities is described in detail under “Midcity buses for downtown transport” (60). These are expected to eliminate the necessity for most of the walking required of street car passengers after they alight in the central business district.
125. Solution of the Safety Problem Should Be Based upon a Study of the Causes of Accidents. In order to scientifically design changes upon the
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