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Your Amazing Collection of Comments – Demanding a Better Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control devices (MUTCD) is a federal regulation based document that dictates the design of every single street in the U.S. It is deeply, inherently flawed, dated, oddly permissive and ultimately downright dangerous. To put it short – the MUTCD stands in the way of equitable, safe, accessible, sustainable, people-first communities. Click here to watch our in-depth webinar on this topic.

America Walks, along with many other great organizations, has been working feverishly to address this issue amid the Federal Register’s public comment period on the MUTCD. We asked you to get involved – by using our comments/letter template – to tell  Transportation Secretary Buttigieg why you think changing the manual is critical.

Below is a smattering of some of our favorite and most impassioned, powerful and persuasive submissions from you. We appreciate you sharing them with us. The amount and intensity of personal stories we received and have heard around this issue affirms just how desperately change is needed – yesterday. Please share these graphics and if you haven’t yet, click here to learn more and submit your comments by May 14th.

Isabella: You haven’t learned anything despite the demonstrable harms of automobile centrism, the large and growing body of academic literature documenting these harms and sustained public outcry. The MUTCD is a major obstacle to the kind of street level changes that are needed to stop automobiles from continuing to be the primary cause of GHG emissions and a major source of death and injury for Americans. And no, electric vehicles are not a solution to any of this. Better road design is.Antonia / Montana: walk or bike my kids to school every day, and every day face the dangers that make a walkable world so inaccessible for most people. The first step to changing this reality is changing the outdated MUTCD that assumes roads exist for cars, not for humans and communities. This prima facie prioritization of the motorist is the original sin for many of the worst aspects of the US transportation system: its high injury and fatality rate, the disparate impacts on low income and communities of color, the displacement of walking as a safe, common and salubrious form of transportation, the degradation of downtowns and the economic albatross of billions in subsidies and $9.5K / household in personal costs to maintain a car.KC / Denver, Colorado: I am tired of looking around my community and others and asking "What decade is this?" Our infrastructure will not serve people until we intentionally put people first, as is done in peer countries with higher quality of life.Bill / Mystic, Connecticut: By prioritizing motorized traffic over pedestrians, cyclists, and other green citizens, it does not move us closer to sustainable communities in the United States. 40,000 Americans are killed by the roads built per the current MUTCD- reducing this toll requires prioritizing vulnerable users, and importantly, slowing automobile traffic.Jason Meyers / Raleigh NC: My wife, our two children, and I are a one-car household, and have been so 95 percent of the time since 2006. Because we’ve made this choice, we walk, bike, and take public transit for many of our trips. I experience everyday the ways in which the MUTCD privileges some street users over others. I cross the street to get on or off a bus at least once a day. I know how difficult and dangerous this can be. I’m privileged enough to usually cross in some of the most relatively safe and comfortable places in my region. Many people are put in much more dangerous situations than I am. I’m mindful of the mixed messages our society sends when we value transit as a sustainable mode of travel to encourage, but simultaneously makes it nearly impossible to safely access it in so many places.Cheri / Tuscon, Arizona: Our current street and sidewalk rules and encouraged templates are contributing to a major health crisis, both physical and mental in the United States. If we could create neighborhoods that are more conducive to an active lifestyle I believe it would 1.) reduce our expenditure on the ever growing health crisis in the nation 2.) reduce the mental health crisis in this nation and 3.) lead a happier and more engaged population. Many people in this country feel isolated. Most of us do not know many, if any, of our neighbors. The more we can get people out and about in their own neighborhoods, the better. So many of my adult friends would love to be able to jog, bike or walk in their own neighborhoods but lack the infrastructure to do so safely.
Jason Meyers / Ralaigh, NC: Once when I was coming home from work and daycare with my youngest daughter, who was three and a half at the time, we were nearly struck crossing the street where we legally had the right-of-way, but the MUTCD effectively prohibits traffic control to make that a reality. I’m mindful of the parents who’ve lost their children in similar circumstances. I also read too many stories about grandparents dying crossing the street.

Jessica / Columbus, Ohio: Communities across the country are spending tens of thousands of dollars on community comprehensive plans, community master plans, and other community visioning plans, but those plans can only go so far when it comes to safer, people- oriented street design because traffic engineers’ “holy grail” is the MUTCD. The outdated document limits flexibility, experimentation, and sadly, it has demanded an inhuman level of attention in order to stay alive.Andrea / Kansas City, Kansas: Physical activity is good for kids’ physical, cognitive and mental health. It reduces stress, improves academic performance and instills healthy habits with life-long benefits. Only 57.5% of kids in the Kansas City metro get enough daily physical activity, and that percentage gets smaller as kids get older. Just 5.7% of kids in the Kansas City metro walk to school. Traffic-related danger is one of the reasons parents are afraid to let their kids walk or bike to school. We understand the agency is revising the MUTCD and are concerned about the current draft. The MUTCD is more than a technical document. As a regulatory tool, it can be a significant barrier to improving access to safe, accessible streets in our local community.Isabella: The MUTCD has spent the better part of a century mandating and codifying that roads be designed to prioritize the throughput of cars to the detriment of virtually every other consideration including air quality, noise pollution, economic vitality and the health and safety of anyone not in a car. Wide, fast roads contribute disproportionately to pedestrian, cyclist and motorist deaths and injuries. They also act as formidable barriers preventing active transportation for those who would prefer not to drive.

Read Other Resources / Stories Around Why We Must Fix the MUTCD ASAP: