March
17
Improving the “Standard” Way of Thinking

The number of cars on the road has increased by leaps and bounds since the invention of roads. The highway engineers now focus on creating wider, faster roads to allow for the increased traffic. However, many engineers have lost sight of what is most important: Safety. As described by engineer Charles Marohn, ”First comes speed; then traffic volume, then safety; then cost.” See http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/08/what-happens-when-town-puts-people-cars/6600/ for the full story.

Following these guidelines, engineers have begun creating “highways” through the middle of towns.  People living in these towns criticized the loss of vegetation, space, and safety as cars sped by their homes. Marohn’s response to these complaints is simple:  “these standards have been shown to work across the world”. Realizing the emptiness of this response, Marohn evaluated the human consequences of this type of thinking. As he wrote in his blog, “Taking highway standards and applying them to urban and suburban streets, and even county roads, costs us thousands of lives every year”. Thankfully, Marohn decided to act on this epiphany and now goes across America explaining that things can be done differently –  “that America’s towns and cities can build streets that are safe and operate at a human scale, the old-fashioned way, and that they can save money and bolster their economies in the process.”

Marohn’s epiphany is a great reminder that just because doing something “according to standards” is satisfactory, we should always look to improve those standards even if it means rethinking an established mentality.  Our standards for safety on the road should constantly evolve and improve with time.

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