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Engineers to Pedestrians: No ‘Walk’ Signs for You!

Photo: Michael Smith

Pedestrians won't get "Walk" signals at thousands of intersections thanks to a decision by a powerful group of engineers in Washington on Thursday.

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices — which establishes rules for road signs, signals and markings — opted to not require the "signal heads" for pedestrians — signs that display the "walk" or "don't walk" signal — at every intersection, despite pressure from an insurgent group of progressive engineers.

"Engineers may continue to not install pedestrian signal heads ... this is our transportation profession," engineering consultant Bill Schultheiss, one of the insurgents, tweeted after the ruling.

The NCUTCD's decision comes at a time when pedestrian deaths are on the rise. About 6,000 people were killed while walking last year, a nearly 50-percent increase over the last five years.

"The committee not passing requirement to provide pedestrian signal when installing new traffic signal is very disappointing," Dongho Chang, Seattle's lead traffic engineer and one of the engineers who pushed for the change, told Streetsblog in an email. "We’ll continue to work with members that have concerns to change their perspectives."

If the changes would have been approved they would have become part of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which is used as a guideline on every road project in America. NCUTCD said it is not sure when the next edition of the manual will be published.

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