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Latest Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices criticized for not considering bikes, pedestrians

Codes and Standards

Latest Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices criticized for not considering bikes, pedestrians

More than a dozen advocacy groups want feds to start over.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | May 17, 2021

Courtesy Pixabay

The latest version of The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is drawing heavy criticism for failing to consider non-automotive road users.

MUTCD is an 862-page engineering manual that governs road markings and signs across the U.S. It carries the power of federal regulation and can shield engineers from liability when someone is hurt or killed.

First published in 1935, the manual has been updated and expanded about once per decade. More than a dozen advocacy groups, including the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the League of American Bicyclists, the National League of Cities, the National Safety Council, and America Walks have asked federal transportation leaders to scrap the current draft and start over.

The major complaint: the manual subordinates pedestrian and cycling safety to vehicle throughput, even as U.S. pedestrian and cycling deaths have been mounting. Critics also say the manual is often used to shut down neighborhood-level campaigns for a new crosswalk or bike lane; essentially lets speeding drivers determine the speed limit; and slows the rollout of bus-only lanes.

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