You may have heard the term Road Safety Assessment, or Road Safety Audit, or RSA and wondered what it meant. Perhaps you know what an RSA is but aren’t sure why you should consider them for your community. Road Safety Assessments are formal safety evaluations of a location, performed by a multidisciplinary team. RSAs differ from traditional safety reviews in that they consider all potential road users, include team members with varied expertise, account for human factor issues and result in a formal written report. They can be performed at all stages of a new project and can also be done on existing roadways as a means to identify safety issues and identify opportunities to mitigate those issues.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has identified RSAs as a Proven Safety Countermeasure that can result in a 10%-60% reduction in total crashes. Many communities are successfully using these assessments as an opportunity to address safety concerns on existing roadways or at intersections. An RSA is also a useful tool in the planning process of a safety improvement project to ensure that all road user needs will be met. An assessment can even focus on a particular type of user such as pedestrians or bicyclists, especially if the location being evaluated experiences high volumes of those users.
Conducting a successful RSA starts with putting together a diverse team. Members should consist of representatives from Public Works, Planning, Emergency Services, Engineering and the Chief Elected Official’s office. Representatives from a neighborhood action group or association can participate to provide the resident perspective. Additionally, the Safety Circuit Rider program assists municipalities with road safety assessments on local roads.
Several municipalities in Connecticut have performed RSAs, with the assistance of the Safety Circuit Rider, to identify safety improvements to busy summer destinations, downtowns, school areas and more. These communities have used the resulting reports to further traffic calming and complete streets initiatives as well as to pursue grant funding for safety improvement projects.
If you would like additional information on conducting a road safety assessment or for general assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at email@example.com.
Mini-roundabouts, while smaller than standard roundabouts, function similarly. Roundabouts are circular, unsignalized intersections where all traffic moves in a counterclockwise direction around a central island. Unlike regular roundabouts, mini-roundabouts have an Inscribed Circle Diameter (ICD) of 90 feet or less. With this smaller ICD, the central island and all splitter islands are of a mountable design that is typically two and a half to three inches in vertical height, making them traversable, or they are painted.
Mike Vaughn of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) references an old adage when explaining mini-roundabouts. “As the saying goes, ‘There is a time and place for everything.’ Mini-roundabouts are small and the small footprint means a mini-roundabout cannot process as many vehicles per hour as a regular sized roundabout…Mini-roundabouts work best in locations with low overall traffic volumes, low truck traffic, and low speed.”
When designing a standard roundabout, large truck traffic is a priority; conversely, if you’re planning a mini-roundabout, the focus is on the rest of the traffic: smaller, more common vehicles. Both types of roundabouts provide traffic calming benefits, employ pedestrian safety measures, and can be used in various scenarios and circumstances.
FHWA highlights many benefits of mini-roundabouts in their technical study. As Vaugh alluded, mini-roundabouts may not always be the best solution, but there are many circumstances in which mini-roundabouts fit the bill. Overall the popularity of mini-roundabouts is growing due to these compelling factors:
Compact Size – A mini-roundabout is often compact enough to fit into an existing intersection.
Traffic Safety – Studies show that crash rates are lower in mini-roundabout intersections.
Traffic Calming – As speeds are reduced on roundabouts, they can often produce traffic calming effects.
Access Management – Mini-roundabouts can provide access to up-and-coming residential or commercial developments.
Environmental Benefits – Fuel consumption and vehicle emissions are reduced with utilization of mini-roundabouts.
Mini-Roundabouts in Connecticut
Although Connecticut has been constructing more roundabouts in recent years, mini-roundabouts are still a new tool. Below are two examples of mini-roundabouts found in the state: one with traversable stamped center and splitter islands and one painted.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portions reprinted with permission from the Fall 2021 issue of the Kentucky Technology Transfer newsletter, The Link, a publication of the Kentucky Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at the University of Kentucky Transportation Center.
“Ordinary Superpowers” by Mark Henson – Book Reviewed by TLP Cohort #7 Member
Author, Author Mark Henson, in chapter one of his book Ordinary Superpowers, says, “I believe with all my heart that you don’t have to change THE world. You just have to change YOUR world.”
The idea that we should strive for self enhancement and personal improvement over accomplishing large-scale feats and grandeur is one that, I believe, is lost on most people today. I believe that society has led us to a place where being oneself, inherently, doesn’t carry much weight on the side of being that extraordinary person that can break through and change the course of the world as we know it. Mark Henson makes numerous references, in this book, to “extraordinary” superheroes, such as Batman and Superman, with their extraordinary superpowers and ability to save the day for the world to see. These are stories that, for me, were etched into my mind and set the bar high for personal accomplishment.
Sure, we are all familiar with things that are our strengths, things that come easy to us, things that we know we can exploit and use to our advantage to earn some level of success and accomplishment, but, perhaps, we haven’t really explored which of those strengths or attributes, if any, are ones that, when isolated and strengthened, could propel us to a level higher than we’ve ever imagined, or if they could help to elevate someone else, perhaps many others, to an unimaginable height or level of success.
Though the idea of nurturing and growing one’s self sounds easy, perhaps, it’s not. Perhaps we get too caught up in the mundane, day to day, drudgery that we have come to know and rely on for its monotony and predictability, to realize that we are capable of so much more. Perhaps we need a little nudge, here and there, to remind us of how great and accomplished we can be, and how much we can do to contribute to the greatness of others. Mark Henson has learned that, through self-evaluation, reflection, and perspective, we all possess “superpowers” that may not be worthy of a skin tight suit, cape, or mask resembling that of a winged creature of the night, but ones that are capable of really changing OUR worlds, if we choose to understand and nourish them.
For me, the concept of “Ordinary Superpowers” is one that I have pondered in the past, but, have never assigned a label to. I believe that every person is a unique being that is perfectly designed to do exactly what it is that they were designed to do. The hard part is figuring out exactly what that is. I have often tried to evaluate myself, from many perspectives, but professionally and societally, more often than not.
Perhaps it is with hard times that we look for our place in the world. Perhaps it is then when we look ourselves in the mirror and wonder why we are here and how we can do better for ourselves and for others, and, perhaps we lose focus, when hard times transition back to good, and never zero in on what those things are. Mark Henson, in this book, encourages his readers to try to identify the things about us that are particular to us and though not unique, from the standpoint that there is, likely, someone somewhere with a similar skill, is an ability that we possess, and is one that stands out amongst a familiar crowd. He labels these particular skills “Ordinary Superpowers” and offers insight and direction for building on them.
I think that this is a concept that can be quite difficult for people to grasp, not from the level of understanding the idea, but from actual self-reflection and analyzation of what is good about them, what is great about them, what is not so great about them, and what qualifies as a “superpower”. Let’s face it, It is always easier to identify what is great about someone else, and even easier to identify their flaws, but a tough pill to swallow when tasked with identifying those things about ourselves. I think that, conceptually, if you can be open minded enough and have the propensity to WANT to do better for yourself, and moreover, others, the author leads you on a detailed path towards focus and understanding to get you to the level of elevation that he has found for himself. Again, I believe that it is one of the most difficult things in life, to be critical of yourself enough that you can view yourself from a third person perspective, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and determine which ones stand out amongst the rest. However, I do believe that, with some effort, we can all get to a place where we have identified, at least one, of our “Ordinary Superpowers”, however big or small, and nurture it until it becomes a tool, in our belt, along our journey towards success.
Mark Henson encourages his readers to reach out to those that know them best to help identify their “superpowers”. I found that people that “know you best”, may or may not share the same perspective, looking in, as you do, and moreover, may provide you with an assessment that is notably biased and almost expected. However, in my journey towards identifying even one of my “Ordinary Superpowers”, I was able to gain some perspective, from someone close to me, that helped me to realize that one of my superpowers comes in two parts, passion and compassion. I would be the first one to tell you that I am a very passionate person, sometimes to a fault, but often aimed at success. When I asked about the “compassion” part, it was noted that I will not let anyone fail, and will exercise the same level of passion, I would normally reserve for myself, to lead others toward success. I think that passion is a superpower, because it allows me to, not only, maintain a path for myself, but to mentor, educate, and motivate others for success. Someone that is passionate about something exudes that energy for others to grab on to and can help to motivate others for success, even when there is no real benefit to them in the long run.
Though I juggled a couple of other “powers” around, while on my voyage, it came to me that my level of curiosity is somewhat special. As an adolescent in school, my curiosity lacked focus and would tend to lead me down a path toward nowhere rather than the upward route it does as an adult. I find myself wanting to know more about everything. Its not just enough for me to know that something works, I want to know how and why. This level of curiosity can, sometimes, be viewed as a nuisance, by some, but pushes me to reach beyond the line of routine, or common, understanding so that I can gain a level of knowledge that extends deeper than that on the surface. To some, perhaps, my curiosity could be viewed as needing to know more than necessary, or metaphorically speaking, overfilling my cup. For me, the curiosity is a hunger. It is a yearning for information and understanding. It is guiding me on my path towards enlightenment and success. It is “property” that I acquire and I own for my personal use, and to offer to others who may need it along their journey.
When I think about joining my curiosity and hunger for knowledge with my passionate commitment for success, I realize that I have so much more to offer myself and my future, and that of those around me, both personally and professionally.
Lastly, I have identified my ability to articulate my thoughts, and the thoughts of others, through words on paper as an “Ordinary Superpower”. Again, as an adolescent, I was more focused on my superpowers on the gridiron, and in the hallway, than I was for knowledge or education. I never appreciated what it was to be able to take a thought or a feeling or an emotion from myself, or from someone else, put it on paper, and have someone read it and actually feel it through the words in print. It wasn’t until I was threatened with graduation, for a less than good average in English class, that I realized that this was not only something that I could do, but something that, perhaps, a lot of people cannot. Now, as an adult, and not threatened with a less than good average, it brings me a feeling of fulfillment when I can assist someone with organizing their thoughts and feelings and emotions, put it on paper, make it make sense, and allow them to share it with the world. Whether it be for wedding vows, a best man’s speech, a letter of intent, a proposal for services or materials, or a routine e-mail, I view the opportunity to write and to be heard as a great one. I am humble enough to know that I am no great author, but I do possess a couple other superpowers, as noted above, that give me plenty to write about. Often I find myself looking for an outlet, a place where I can write about the things I’m passionate about and the things I’ve learned through incessant questioning and curiosity. Perhaps, by refining and combining my superpowers, I will find myself in a place to better myself and the world around me. Words spoke, however knowledgeable and passionate, are only words in the wind if not in print. Mark Henson suggested, in his book, to try and identify three superpowers. Three, at the beginning of this journey seemed impossible. I’m convinced, however, that three could be just the tip of the iceberg IF someone hungers for success and is willing to dig deep below the surface, seek clarity, and practice refinement.
I am a person that whole heartedly believes that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I believe that a team is only as effective and successful as its weakest member. From a leadership perspective, I believe that we need to work just as hard, if not harder, for those that work for us in order for any one of us, or all of us, to be successful. I am a person that longs to pass knowledge and experience on to those that long for it. I am motivated to succeed, not just for myself, but for those that accompany me, above or below, on our journey towards achievement. I am passionate about that journey. I will go above and beyond to support those that need to be supported and to share my passion, my superpower, with those that need a lift along the way so that we may rise together. I will focus on and nurture my passion and enthusiasm so that it becomes stronger. I will continue to ask questions and learn as much as I can about as much as I can and, in turn, will pass that knowledge on to the curious and the questioning. And I will continue to write whenever I can, even if it is just for myself. I will put my thoughts on paper, I will continue to use that superpower to help others and I will continue to refine that power so that, someday, my words may educate or empower someone to do something great.
I will make a conscious effort to grow these powers and to expand my mind in hopes that, in time, they will help me to make a difference.
Mark Henson noted that everyone’s “Ordinary Superpowers” are different. They are uniquely theirs, perhaps not one singularly, but in combination with each other, and as such, we need to rely on those around us, that truly support us on our journey and supplement our superpowers with theirs, and we can achieve success unparalleled. He reminded us that we should not discard relationships because someone’s superpowers, or lack thereof, either don’t mesh well with ours or actually steal energy from ours, but to shift the energy and the dynamic of that relationship such that it can no longer hinder us on our way or rob us of the calories needed to take the next step.
The author said, “To multiply your powers, you must have people in your corner who complement your abilities”. I believe that we are strong and capable, stand alone, beyond what we can comprehend. I am certain, however, that we cannot fathom our capabilities when we unite and cooperate.
In closing, Mark Henson reminded his readers that “Instead of trying to “be legendary,” why not just try to be you? “. I think this was the perfect ending to the journey he shared and the insight he offered. There is nothing more profound than learning to “just be you”, even if you have certain “superpowers” that make you great. We have all seen instances where success has led people to lose sight of who they are and where they came from, and I think that encouraging people to be super, yet humble, is the perfect recipe for a future filled with success, fulfillment, and happiness.
Traffic signal cabinets are typically locked to prevent equipment damage or theft and, more importantly, to protect road users from the safety and liability risk of a malfunctioning or non-functioning signal due to tampering. Traditionally, traffic signal cabinet locks use a standard #2 key. This provides a level of convenience as signal technicians, engineers, and contractors can all access the cabinet. However, these keys can easily be purchased on the internet. This means anyone can obtain a #2 key and access any number of traffic signal cabinets with the agency operating the traffic signal left unaware. If an employee drops their key, an individual could pick it up and use it to tamper with or steal cabinet equipment.
With the introduction of electronic controllers with networking capabilities, the role of traffic signal cabinets has changed. In the past cabinets simply housed electromechanical equipment, but now they are used to provide a vital level of network security. Increasingly, municipalities are connecting traffic signal controllers to their computer networks to allow for central control of the signals and monitoring of camera feeds. The need to protect the computers and sensitive information on these networks has prompted manufacturers to produce new security solutions that can be installed in new cabinets or retrofitted in existing cabinets.
One option for increasing security is a high-security mechanical lock. To provide convenience, these locks can be keyed so that all of the traffic signal cabinets in a system use the same key. These locks are usually designed to be resistant to the elements and to lock picking. One consideration with this type of lock is the management of keys. If a vendor requires access to the cabinet, the agency must provide them with a copy of the key or travel to the intersection to provide access.
Another option is an electromechanical lock. These locks use an electronic key to provide access control using programmable keys. Some of these keys require recharging, while others are designed with built-in batteries. Some batteries are replaceable, while other keys are designed with non-replaceable batteries and must be disposed of and replaced when the batteries die. Some manufacturer software provides an audit log for monitoring access to the cabinets, and there are systems that allow for timed access to the cabinet during pre-set time periods. If keys are lost, they can be reprogrammed using the software to prevent access to the cabinet. These systems have the benefit of increased accountability and security but can be inconvenient if a key loses its charge or the battery dies.
A third type of access control relies on passcodes or RFID proximity cards to disengage a solenoid and provide access to the cabinet lock. Once access is provided, a standard #2 key can be used to open the lock. A benefit of this type of system is that it does not require a special key that needs to be charged. One thing to note about these systems is that they are powered through the cabinet and can default to either the cabinet being unlocked or the cabinet being locked until power is restored.
However an agency decides to limit access to its traffic signal cabinets, it is important to involve any stakeholders who may need access to the cabinets. This will ensure that the system will meet all of the agency’s needs, securing the cabinets while allowing necessary access.
The T2 Center does not endorse any particular product or manufacturer and offersthe above examples for informational purposes only.
The end of another year is fast approaching, and what better time to look back on all the great resources and tools that have been made available to local agencies to help improve roadway safety!
The Federal Highway Administration’s website is home to great safety resources and information to address roadway safety issues on local roads. These have been promoted throughout the year, but in case you missed them, here they are again.
Safe System Approach, which starts with the belief that death and serious injury on our roadways is unacceptable and that humans will make mistakes, has six basic principles as its foundation that are realized through five related elements. More information can be found here.
Expansion of the Safe System Approach for Pedestrians and Bicyclists with this primer.
Several Speed Management tools have been created to address the nationwide speeding issue, which is prevalent here in Connecticut as well. Those tools and related information are available here: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/.
Intersection Safetyis another area in which the Federal Highway Administration has added resources and tools for local agencies. Check out the great information on their website by clicking this link.
On November 18, 2021, the Training & Technical Assistance (T2) Center staff, guests and Connecticut’s top transportation leaders honored 143 professionals who completed one or more of seven different certificate programs in 2020 and 2021.
There were 72 Public Works Academy graduates, 21 Road Master graduates, 13 Road Scholar graduates, 6 Local Traffic Authority graduates, 7 Transportation Leadership graduates, 8 Safety Champion graduates, and 16 graduates from the new Traffic Signal Technician Certificate Program. It is important to note that 12 of our 2020/2021 graduating class were members of the CT Department of Transportation.
The opening remarks of the ceremony were delivered by Assistant Dean Kylene Perras from the School of Engineering at the University of Connecticut. The keynote speakers for the event were Division Administrator Amy Jackson-Grove of the Federal Highway Administration, Commissioner Joseph Giulietti of the CT Department of Transportation; and two of our 2020/2021 graduates, Stephen Frycz Jr., Traffic Signal Supervisor for the City of Stamford and Tom Farrelly, Interim Road Foreman for the Town of Southbury.
The list of alumni for each graduating class from 1996 to the present are posted here.
To view the 2020/2021 Graduation Guide, please click here.
Introducing the FHWA Rural Roadway Departure Countermeasure Pocket Guide
As part of the ongoing work to reduce rural roadway departures across the country, the Federal Highway Administration has developed a Rural Roadway Departure Countermeasure pocket guide. This guide, found here, provides local agencies with a quick reference for identifying possible countermeasures for various issues they may identify in the field. It is meant to be a hands-on approach to reducing roadway departure crashes and can be distributed to those employees who work on your local roads daily, to assist them in making your roads safer.
The guide is organized into three color-coded sections which align with the proven countermeasure categories – keeping vehicles in lane, reducing potential for a crash and minimizing severity. Also included is a graph that identifies the countermeasures within each section and provides information on whether that solution is a low, medium or high cost.
From January 1, 2021 to date Connecticut has had 133 fatal or serious injury rural roadway departure crashes. By implementing these countermeasures local agencies can reduce this number and get Connecticut closer to our goal of zero deaths on our roadways. Of course many of these countermeasures have been implemented around the state by towns and the Department of Transportation and should continue to be installed.
Safe System Approach for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Recently, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a Primer on Safe System Approach for Pedestrians and Bicyclists. This comprehensive guide provides an explanation of the Safe System approach and its focus on eliminating fatal and serious injuries by recognizing that humans will make errors and are vulnerable. Agencies can then move forward in creating a roadway environment that helps eliminate crash risks for pedestrians and bicyclists while reducing vehicle speeds.
Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable users of our roadways, more likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries if involved in a crash. That risk increases with a vehicle’s speed. The Safe Systems approach considers all these various elements and takes a holistic approach to reducing serious injury and fatal crashes.
The FHWA primer explains each element, provides information on how an agency can implement a safety culture and offers a strategy to improve safety in their community.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at email@example.com.
Signal Spotlight: Signalized Intersection Design with Accessibility in Mind
October is National Pedestrian Safety Month, so this month’s Signal Spotlight focuses on accommodating pedestrians at signalized intersections. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26% of pedestrian deaths in the United States occur at intersections. That represents 1,667 pedestrians killed each year. In Connecticut, the overall number of pedestrian-related crashes decreased from 1,574 in 2019 to 1,141 in 2020, but pedestrian-related crashes involving a fatality increased from 53 in 2019 to 60 in 2020. Designing the physical environment at signalized intersections to accommodate pedestrians of all ages and abilities, in combination with timing tools like the leading pedestrian interval, can increase safety for these vulnerable road users.
The DraftPublicRightsofWayAccessibilityGuidelines (PROWAG) outlines design practices to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities within public rights of way. Intersections that are designed with these users in mind will typically accommodate pedestrians of all abilities sufficiently. The PROWAG discusses several considerations specific to signalized intersections that designers and operators of traffic signals should keep in mind.
The first item to consider is pedestrian indications. All new installations should include countdown indications mounted between seven feet and ten feet above the ground. Where visual pedestrian signals are provided, audible pedestrian signals (APS) should also be provided for pedestrians who have low vision. Information on the required features of APS, including audible tones, tactile feedback and speech messages may be found in Section 4E.09 of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
The next consideration is the pedestrian access route (PAR). A minimum of four feet should be provided around obstructions, including pedestrian push buttons, mast arm and span pole bases, and sign posts. The pedestrian access route, including the sidewalks, ramps, and landing areas, should have a maximum slope of five percent and a maximum cross slope of two percent. It’s important to remember that the PAR does not end at the sidewalk ramp and the same standards should be applied through the crosswalks.
Push Button Locations are also a concern when accommodating pedestrians. When two push buttons are located at the same corner, they should be at least ten feet apart. If that’s not possible, it is important to provide a way for pedestrians with low vision to distinguish between the two buttons. This can be accomplished using a locator tone, a tactile arrow showing the direction of the crossing associated with the button, and an audible message denoting which of the two street crossings the button is provided for.
To ensure pedestrians using wheelchairs are accommodated, it is important to place push buttons within reach. As illustrated in the diagrams below from the PROWAG, the buttons should be mounted between 42 ” and 48 ” above the ground and the maximum reach necessary to press the button should be ten inches.
When considering location, the push button should be placed next to an accessible landing area to provide a stable space for the wheelchair while a pedestrian pushes the button. Keep in mind that guide rail, fences, bushes and other obstructions make it difficult for those using wheelchairs to reach a push button. To allow time for travel between the button and the sidewalk ramp, the push button should ideally be placed within five feet of the curb or edge of pavement and should not be placed more than ten feet away.
An accessible route may look acceptable on the construction plans, but often changes are made to a design to address field conditions. Installers and inspectors can ensure accessibility at the intersection by double checking the location of pedestrian signal equipment. Here is a checklist with some items to consider:
Are the push buttons and APS units close to the crosswalks they control?
Are the push buttons at the correct height?
Are the tactile arrows aligned with the crosswalks they control?
Are the audible indications functioning and do they make sense?
Are the audible locator tones and walk messages at the appropriate volume?
September means “back to school” around Connecticut. Although school continues to look a little different for many, what remains the same is the danger students face getting to and from school on our roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines children as age 14 and younger. In 2017, the most recent year reported, NHTSA statistics revealed the following:
Of the 37,133 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States, 1,147 (3%) were children.
Of the 5,977 pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2017, 214 (4%) were children.
Of the 783 pedalcyclist traffic fatalities in 2017, 53 (7%) were children.
This number means an average of three children per day are killed on our nation’s roadways. The Road to Zero Coalition, which is managed by the National Safety Council, has made a commitment to bring traffic fatalities down to zero by 2050. This is a challenging but important commitment, as no one should have to die simply traveling our roads. Children are especially vulnerable during the school year as they are walking and biking to school, often during times of little daylight.
There are many ways in which you can make your community safer for children and for all roadway users. Resources from organizations like the Safe Routes Partnership and Walk Safe can help you to create safe systems in your community. These organizations focus on getting children safely to and from school, but their ideas ultimately result in greater safety for all users. Communities can also start a walking school bus which provides safety while encouraging physical activity. This also helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road during school drop-off and pick-up hours. If you are interested in additional ways to make your community safer for children, watch this Road to Zero webinar.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.