Category Archives: Public Works

Is the Lead in Flint Really in the Drinking Water?

I'm following up on the Flint water issue because the more I thought about it, I'm becoming much more convinced my original suspicion is true – the elevated lead levels in the kids there are not really related to the drinking water. As I mentioned in my last blog post about this, the leading cause of lead poisoning in children is lead paint, not drinking water. So if the pediatrician who analyzed the lead testing didn't take into account the living environments of those children, how does Flint know the lead in those kids is really from the drinking water and not lead paint? The government could end up spending hundreds of millions of dollars on replacing pipes and addressing lead in the drinking water, but the actual cause of the lead poisoning would not have been removed.

Perhaps someone closer to this problem has already looked into this because I cannot imagine this entire issue has been allowed to get to this point without someone bringing up this question. But I cannot find anywhere a discussion of how everyone came to the conclusion that the lead problem in Flint is due to the drinking water rather than lead paint which is a much more likely cause.  Even a recent article by PBS ("Worried about lead in your water? Flint pediatricians have this advice") cautions people about the dangers of lead paint, but just accepts that the problem in Flint is primarily due to the drinking water. 

It doesn't seem like the doctor who did the analysis is an expert in the built environment or in water chemistry so is it possible she just did not consider other causes or know what else to check? And now everyone is so focused on the drinking water that the actual cause of their problem is being missed? Recent test results of lead in drinking water in Flint seem to indicate this is a possibility. Out of a total of 7,131 tests to date, 6.5% of the sites tested had a lead level over the action limit of 15 ppb. And while this might be a concern if you were living in one of those homes over the limit, it is not quite the citywide risk it is being reported to be. According to the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule, the water supply is only required to address lead and copper in the drinking water if more than 10% of the sites tested are over 15 ppb.

Flint Water Analysis 2/4/2016

If the final result of all this testing proves lead in the drinking water in Flint isn't even above the action levels set by the EPA, this will serve as a good example of how data in the wrong hands can be misinterpreted and result in public panic and a waste of tax payer dollars without even solving the actual problem.

And will another result be that all the other cities with drinking water systems with lead level results above Flint's will begin to weigh whether or not it is worth letting the media know so they can also get more funding and free bottled water from celebrities. There's a similar size community I'm aware of that might not have lead levels over the action limit either, but according to a comparison shown below of the 2014 Consumer Confidence Reports from both communities, this water system does have a little more than twice the amount of lead Flint has. Based on the public's reaction to Flint, I'm thinking if this system drew attention to this fact, they could finally receive the millions they probably could use to upgrade their water system too. 

Lead Comparison 2014

In the end, I suppose we can say on the plus side this situation in Flint has resulted in bottled water companies having sold 234,490 cases of water for Flint since Jan. 9, 2016 (Source: State of Michigan), people being more aware of drinking water issues, and Flint receiving huge amount of funding for their water system. But I have to still wonder if the down side will be not having truly served the children of Flint?

 

If you are curious about where testing in Flint has taken place and want a visualization of the lead limits that are under (green) or exceed (red) the action limit of 15 ppb, you can check out a map I threw together from the current test results (there are a few outliers in the data, I apologize for not cleaning up):

https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?snapid=S17177089yyf

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We are all Flint Michigan

There are so many articles out there by now about the Flint, Michigan, water issue, I debated adding mine to the list. But I noticed there are some interesting aspects about what has happened that I've not seen discussed elsewhere. So I decided to go ahead and throw my voice in with the others. Also, I think it is important that someone from the industry point out what all of us know, but the public and media may not which is that in general,

…We are all Flint, Michigan.

I'm going to discuss this point first just because the other topics I want to touch on involve more technical information that probably won't interest most people. So why do I say we are all Flint, Michigan? First a short history of lead in the water industry:

In many countries throughout the world, including the United States, lead pipes were used for centuries to convey water.

As you can see below, lead lines were used at the Roman Baths which were built in 70 A.D. in Bath, England.

Lead Pipe at Roman Bath in Bath, England

So how did lead move from a commonly accepted material for water lines to the "do not use" list? Based on information in an article "The Lead Industry and Lead Water Pipes 'A Modest Campaign'" by Richard Rabin, MSPH, people started realizing in the late 1800s that maybe using lead for moving water around wasn't such a great idea. But even this knowledge didn't seem to immediately stop the use of lead for many more decades. According to the article:

"Although most cities in the United States were moving away from lead water pipes by the 1920s, it appears that this trend was not universal. National model plumbing codes approved lead into the 1970s and 1980s, and most water systems based their regulations on those codes. Federal guidelines and specifications also sanctioned lead pipes at least into the 1950s." 

Lead use in water systems was not banned until passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act which in Section 1417 prohibited the:

 “use of any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux, after June 1986, in the installation or repair of (i) any public water system; or (ii) any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility providing water for human consumption, that is not lead free.”

Later, in 1991, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Lead and Copper Rule – a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water. This rule established the action level (AL) of 0.015 mg/L for Pb and 1.3 mg/L for Cu based on 90th percentile level of tap water samples. It's interesting to note that this rule also states an exceedance of the AL is not a violation but "can trigger other requirements that include water quality parameter (WQP) monitoring, corrosion control treatment (CCT), source water monitoring/treatment, public education, and lead service line replacement (LSLR)."

If you are wondering why it took so long to get lead banned as a material in the water system, you can read Rabin's article linked above. My point I'm making here is that lead was commonly used all over the place. Over the 30 plus years I've been designing, building, and helping operate water systems, I've come across a lot of lead lines used for water services – the pipes carrying water from the public water main to people's homes and businesses. And because lead was such a common material, I never noticed lead only used for lines running to homes in low income areas. I've also seen lead lines running to the homes of the wealthiest in the community and to all types of businesses.

What really makes the difference on what type of service line someone has is when it was installed.

If it was put in decades ago before copper became the preferred choice, then the line is probably lead. In Werner Troesken's book, The Great Lead Water Pipe Disaster, he lists on page 11 in Table 1.1 50 of the major cities in the U.S. and the material used for service lines in the late 1900s for 46 of these cities. He notes 85% of the cities were using lead water pipes. Detroit, Michigan, is one of them, and the locations extend across our nation from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, Calif. For all I know the White House might still have a lead water line.  

Polyphosphate SystemSo if lead water lines are everywhere, just like in Flint, you might ask, how come we haven't dug up all these lines and replaced them? Well, replacing every lead line was definitely an option every community water supply regulated by the Lead and Copper rule could consider. However, I haven't heard of many that chose that alternative. Probably because the cost and disruption to the community is potentially tremendous and not cost effective compared to other solutions. Also, in many communities, ordinances place ownership of these water service lines with the property owner, so few communities wanted to have to go to their water customers and force them to put in new water lines. And even if the water supplier chose to pay for everything, the cost would ultimately be passed along anyway to customers through higher rates, and the property owner would still need to go through the disruption of having their yard torn up. So many community water supplies chose an alternative which involves adding chemicals like polyphosphates to the water to coat the pipes and prevent the leaching of lead and copper into the water. For most, it's really the most cost effective solution, and as you can see from the photo here, it's a fairly simple setup.

So if we are like Flint, are we too at risk?

While I said all that to try to let people know Flint is not different than most other cities across our nation with respect to its water piping, it is important to remember, not everyone, including everyone in Flint, is at risk. Based on the lead and copper water testing results I saw from Flint, it seems the results showed a little over 10% of the sites tested over the Action Limit which was similar to results from the supply systems for which I worked. So for those in Flint, this would mean if they do not have a lead service line, they are probably at a low risk of having lead levels above the action level. And for those of you who do not live in Flint and have a lead water line, if your community water supply is in compliance with the Lead and Copper rule, levels of lead in your water would probably not exceed the action levels noted above. However, to be sure, you could always contact your water supplier and ask them to test your water for lead and copper.

Also, be cautious of blaming drinking water for lead in children when it is more likely to be lead paint

 Prevent Lead Poisoning. Get your home tested. Get your child tested. Get the facts! Click here…If your community is going to analyze the lead levels in children and compare them over a specific time frame to determine if there is a lead problem, keep in mind the primary source of lead in children is not from drinking water, but from lead paint. So a true study would develop methodology that includes an analysis of each child's home environment over that time period. I tried to find the study or report from the pediatrician in Flint who analyzed the levels of lead in children in the area, but could not find any document summarizing her methodology, analysis, and testing to see if she had taken into account exposure to lead paint. Particularly if she has made a correlation between elevated levels and income levels of children who test positive for lead, I thought it would seem more likely lead paint would be the cause of that than would water. Not having found anything verifying she used the proper methodology, I have to wonder if there is a lead problem in Flint that will not be solved by addressing the drinking water because it is actually a lead paint problem. As the leadfreekids.org site states, "just a few particles of dust from lead-based paint are enough to poison a child."

And now for the technical discussion…

People familiar with the Flint story probably won't be surprised to hear that one of the main  problems we had with a plant where I used to work was that the engineer who designed it based the treatment design on the parameters of the existing water supply. For almost a hundred years, the community had drawn water from a shallow acquifer lying under about seven acres of land. As part of the water plant construction, the city had decided to expand their supply by digging a new well. This well was located outside of the immediate area of the historic well field, but because it was in the same acquifer, the engineer assumed the water quality would be the same. First lesson I learned from this project:

Always test the water quality parameters of a new water supply – preferably before committing to its use

The other wells had about 0.5 parts of manganese while this new well had 3 parts iron. Now if you are in the industry, you can imagine how the plant performed if it was designed to treat 0.5 parts of manganese and now had to also oxidize 3 parts iron. Iron oxidizes first so when that new well was running, there wasn't enough ozone, which we were using as the oxidant, to oxidize everything. Guess what we had to do? We pre-chlorinated to assist in the oxidation. And guess what the extra chlorine added ahead of the ozonators did? Increased the corrosiveness of the water.

So it seems like Flint built their new plant because they had been receiving treated water from Detroit then decided to enter into an agreement with other communities to pull water from the lake. And what I am wondering is did the plant designer set up the treatment system for the lake water without knowing or ignoring the river water would be used in the interim? If that was the case and the water quality is different between the two sources, this could be causing many of the issues they are having with corrosion. If changes had to be made to the process to address the change in the quality of the water supply, there could be impacts to the finished water quality that were not anticipated in the design.

Another issue with a change in water supply is that it can change the anticipated pH for which the plant was designed. And pH definitely has an impact on the performance of the treatment process. If pH is too low, the water can be more corrosive; if pH is too high, certain substances like calcium carbonate can fall out of solution, bind to the pipes, and reduce flow. Below is the inside of a pipe in which substances came out of solution and adhered to the pipe.

Pipe coated with calcium carbonate

I also looked at the treatment reports for Flint's water plant to see if there seemed to be anything unusual with their process that could affect the corrosiveness of the water. This is important to look into because replacing water lines may lower the risk of lead in drinking water supplying homes and businesses, but it will not improve the water quality. One thing I noticed is that according to Flint's Consumer Confidence Reports for 2014, they are using ozone for taste and odor control and as a pretreatment disinfection. Because of my past experience I wondered if their use of ozone was impacting the corrosiveness of their water. 

In our system, which used ozone as an oxidant (a photo of one of our ozonators is shown below) and required the need to pre-chlorinate, we initially experienced the formation of nitrates/nitrites. The level never exceeded the regulated amount, but it still caused problems in the system. Unfortunately we had to treat the problem with more chlorine until the nitrates/nitrite formation was under control. Fortunately for Flint, it doesn't appear this is an issue, but it is something to be on the lookout for.

Ozonator

We also noticed that in addition to the corrosive water causing a change in the level of lead and copper from the levels tested prior to the plant going online, there were many failures of metal-based parts in equipment exposed to water. In particular, the impellers of our pumps and the pumps in the fire trucks were degraded to the point they had to be replaced. I am not sure if Flint has experience any of this, but it is also something to monitor. Fortunately the addition of the phosphates and the addition of chemicals to increase our pH slightly seemed to elminate this problem for us.

Another issue that came up was raised by industries in our city that relied upon our water for their operation. A change in water quality can make a significant difference for these companies not only in the successful operation of their own process, but in their costs. I suspect this became an issue in Flint because I read a report indicating one of the industries had to be supplied with different water. Changing lead lines will not address this issue. Instead the treatment system needs to be analyzed and the water quality addressed. 

In the end, what all of the problems at our plant taught me was that the design and operation of a water treatment process is highly dependent on a strong knowledge of water chemistry. And over the years when I've talked with operators starting up new plants, I've found they are all struggling to solve the same issues again and again. And it all seems to be caused by the designer ignoring water chemistry. Engineers are typically the people designing water plants, but most engineers are not chemists. Which has always made me wonder

Why doesn't the EPA require a water chemist to sign off on new plant designs?

Information about the source water used in the design, the use of ozone, the pH and perhaps even temperature of the water, and the apparent use of high amounts of chlorine could indicate something might not be right with the treatment process chosen or implemented in Flint. And while I cannot say without a doubt that these are the issues impacting the corrosiveness of Flint's water, they are clues that tell me someone who knows water chemistry should be analyzing their treatment process. Because the government can throw hundreds of millions of dollars at this and everyone's pipes can be replaced, but in the end, the root of the problem might not be addressed which could be the use of the wrong treatment process for that particular water supply.

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating 25 Years of ADA

Disability Rights are Civil Rights

Today marks the 25th anniversay of the signing of the ADA legislation. This milestone is a good time to look around your community and see just how much your governmental agency has accomplished in removing barriers for those who have disabilities. 

  • Do you have a transition plan for identifying and removing barriers?
  • When was the last time you inventoried barriers and updated your transition plan?
  • What percentage of barriers in your built environment have been brought into compliance?
  • Is your governmental agency website compliant?
  • Are your public meetings and publications compliant?
  • Have you incorporated accessibility and needs of those who have disabilities into your emergency response plan?

For many of us, even after 25 years, we still have a long way to go to achieve compliance. This is particularly true for those of us addressing facilities within the right of way. As most are aware, much of the reason for this is due to the lack of clear guidance and direction specifically addressing the right of way. Fortunately the Access Board is working on finalizing Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way or PROWAG, and when it is finally approved, much of the confusion over requirements will be settled.

In addition to reviewing your community's progress in achieving compliance, you can also check out the following resources created to provide additional ADA-related education and, in some cases, assistance in removing barriers:

Timeline of the ADA

ADA Legacy Project: Preserving the history of the disability rights movement

Smithsonian Online Exhibit: EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America

Google Impact Challenge: Google has launched a call for ideas for leveraging technology to improve accessibility

 

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Learning New Skills at Civic Design Camp – Chicago 2015

At today's Civic Design Camp not only did I pick up a few choice bits of advice and skills to add to my civic toolbox, but I also was able to meet and network with some great people including Josh Kalov who I first met at CityCamp in Chicago back in 2010.

 

Introduction and First Session

The day started out with an introduction by Cyd Harrell, product director for Code for America, and Christopher Whitaker, brigade coordinator for the midwest region of Code for America. Whitaker is also a consultant for Smart Chicago and helps co-host Open Gov Hack Night in Chicago. After introductions, the discussion was turned over to Raphael Villas who was a Presidential Innovation Fellow and is now with 18F, a group within GSA providing digital services to the Federal government. Villas explained how he made the move from the private to public sector and showcased a few of the projects with which 18F is involved. 

Civic Design Camp 18F Presentation

These projects include:

Communicart – an online service to assist holders of Federal credit cards with purchase approvals and tracking.

MyUSA – a single sign-in service connecting citizens with the U.S. government. The project is still in Alpha, but when finished can assist in linking citizens with any application designed to accept this single sign-on.

USCIS – 18F is working on a streamlined version of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. This new site will better direct users to the type of information they are looking for. If you visit the site, you will see it now immediately asks the user the status of their citizenship and offers possible actions or questions.

Let Girls Learn – this site provides information about the collaborative effort between the First Lady and the Peace Corps to promote learning among adolescent girls.

If you want to follow up and learn more about 18F or want to check out their code, you can visit their Github page at https://github.com/18f or their Dashboard at https://18f.gsa.gov/dashboard/.

 

Visual Design Basics

Next up was Molly McLeod who is with Code for America. She shared with us several good tips for making government documents, forms, and other media more user friendly. I kept thinking throughout her whole presentation how helpful it would be if the engineering industry was given more instruction in this area of study. Many engineers are tasked with preparing documents for use by government agencies, yet most have not had any formal instruction on writing or visual design. The lack of skills in these areas can cause a reader of those documents to either not even bother reading them because it is just too painful to fight through, or the lack of organization and disregard for the end user can leave the reader thinking the author lacks credibility. This lack of credibility can then translate to the government agency for which the document was prepared. So, to improve government documents, designers should always, before writing or preparing anything, answer the questions McLeod posed:

  • Who are your users?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What is the order they need to know it?
  • What are the action steps?

The next step is to make sure you are providing answers to the questions your users might have such as:

  • Am I eligible/is this relevant to me?
  • What info/materials do I need on hand?
  • How long will it take?
  • Key details: deadlines/when/where?

McLeod also offered content tips taken from the Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent. And even though the information is focused on communicating information to voters, most of the tips apply to any type of instruction given in a government document. (You can check out the guides yourself by following the link.) Below is a photo of a redesign McLeod did of her county's instructions to voters. If you visit her blog post about this topic, "Let's Respectfully Redesign Government," you can learn more about this redesign and see a side-by-side comparison of her design with the original set of instructions.

Civic Design Camp Visual Design Example

Prototyping Websites using Github Pages

Cathy Deng next showed us how she uses Github Pages to prototype websites. But the added bonus in this session were the other tools she touched on that can also be used to improve or assist in creating sites. While I've worked with website development since the early 1990s and was familiar with Github, these were all tools I have not yet used so it was great to learn about all of them and see a live demo of their features. To start, Deng showed us how to easily set up a website using Github Pages. Basically all you need is a Github account. After that you can follow the directions on the Github Pages site to set up your own website through your account. Here is a link to the very basic site I set up on my own account within only a few minutes following the example: My-Website.

Deng then showed us how we can test out changes to the site's code in Codepen. This tool, which is shown in the screenshot below, allows the user to paste code into the appropriate section – HTML, CSS,  or JS – and immediately preview how it will look in the browser.

Codepen Website Screenshot

The other tool she shared was Bootstrap Components. This site lists many of the items you might want to place on your website such as dropdowns, button groups, headers, progress bars, and many others. If you find the one you want, the code is listed so you can copy and paste it into the code for your site.

The last tool Deng brought into play was Font Awesome. This site, which is also hosted on GitHub, offers numerous vector icons that are scalable and can be added to your site. You can either download them and add them yourself, or you can copy and paste the code that links to the icon on Font Awesome. As the site indicates, "Font Awesome is fully open source and is GPL friendly." You can view Deng's final, simple site she coded during the presentation here http://cathydeng.github.io/my-website/ and access it on Github here https://github.com/cathydeng/my-website if you are interested in forking it over to your own account and experimenting with the code.

Civic User Testing Group

The final presentation I saw was given by Sonia Marziano who is with Smart Chicago and more specifically manages CUTGroup, a civic user testing group in the city of Chicago. Marziano explained how her group arranges testing of websites for developers. Their testing group consists of about 800 residents in the city representing all 50 wards and all 77 neighborhoods. Each participant in the group receives a $5 gift card for signing up and $20 each time they participate in a test.

If you visit the CUTGroup page on the Smart Chicago website, which is separate from the CUTGroup website, you'll find a listing of all the sites the group has tested so far along with very detailed reports analyzing the test results. Marziano was asked if she knew of developers using these results to assist in building better websites. While she wasn't specifically aware of anyone doing that, she did indicate there is enough detail in the write-ups that they could be used for this purpose and believed it would be a great use of the reports. For example, below is the final report from their testing of the Chicago Works for You Website (as an aside, if you haven't ever seen this site, it's worth clicking on over to check it out how Chicago reports their public works related service requests and to see the frequency at which those types of requests are received). I included this one because it focuses on public works related services. If you have a similar site, it might be helpful to read through the user group's reactions and thoughts about their experience with the site:

Marziano also shared some general, overall observations from their testing such as they found very few people click on popovers and that people don't like to have to sign up to access information. She said users will do everything possible to avoid having to share their personal information. They also realized from testing that for autotweets sent to a Twitter user based on specific terms used by that person in a Tweet, it is important to include these types of elements in the autotweet:

  • compassion
  • a question
  • an official element

So for example, if someone sends out a Tweet mentioning food poisoning in the city of Chicago, Foodborne Chicago will send an autotweet that is similar to the following:

"@twitteruser Sorry to hear you're ill. The Chicago health department can help.  https://t.co/kTBNsEJriH"

 

Final Presentations

I did miss the final presentations because I had to take off to get home in time for other commitments. However, based on posts by other attendees, it looks like the final presentations covered discussion about the Design Thinking for Libraries Website and gifs.

 

Off-line takeaways

As always in addition to the more formal presentations, I usually pick up some good stuff from others who I meet at an event. Because I was fortunate enough to sit at a table with others who are involved in the transportation industry, I learned a lot about what is going on with Chicago transportation and city business and found out about a few other websites that offer great information. Below are the sites Steve Vance, Abraham Emmanuel, and Josh Kalov shared with me:

Chicago Traffic Tracker – the benefit of this site is the regional map shown in the upper left corner. This small map gives a good overview of the congestion or traffic in an area of Chicago. It can also show how this compares to what is typical for that location and time and it can predict over a 12-hour time period how it will change.

Cook County Property Tax Portal – this site is useful if you have an address or PIN number for a parcel in Cook County. The information offered includes standard property tax information and a listing of the last few property transactions taken from the Recorder's office.

Chicago Cityscape – this site offers information about building permit and business licensing activity in the city of Chicago.

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Running Toilets Get Their Own 5K Race!

Running Toilet
Catch a Running Toilet in a 5K Race Near You!

The EPA has been promoting Fix-a-Leak Week (March 16-22, 2015) for the past seven years. But like many issues in public works, sometimes it is difficult to drive awareness and attract people's attention to the message. Even with great social media resources and a topic that left ignored could mean a loss of money, it's still not easy for a message like this to stand out in today's constant stream of information. So some communities are taking a different and innovative approach by promoting the problem of running water with a 5K Run, and a few races will even include a running toilet.

If you manage a water system and have been looking for an idea for getting your message out about Fix-a-Leak, you can check out the races listed at the end of this post and consider organizing something similar in your own community. As the popularity of the race in Roswell, Ga., shows, your one event can end up reaching 800 people from your community. If the idea of a race is too much for your staff to manage on their own with the often limited time and resources available, you can follow the lead of Fort Worth, Texas, and partner with a local running group or club to help organize and host your run.

Many of the communities also enhance their event by incorporating social media. A few have created videos to promote their run (included with each listing below) or encouraged participants to use social media to post photos of themselves running in the race. Some of the races are themed and include a costume contest. At least one of the races offers a prize to a random person who posts on social media something they learned from the event. And others, including the one in Fort Worth, have also arranged for groups such as the EPA, local water conservation organizations, and local hardware or plumbing companies to set up information booths at the race. What better way to raise awareness, offer information, and have some fun!?

 

Races Promoting Fix-a-Leak Week:

Arizona

Peoria: One for Water 4-miler, Saturday, March 21, 2015

California

Santa Rosa: St. Patrick's Day 5K, Sunday, March 15, 2015

Georgia

Roswell: Water Drop Dash, Saturday, March 21, 2015

 

Texas

Fort Worth: Chasing Leaks 5K Run/Walk, Sunday, March 15, 2015

Plano: Chasing Leaks Fun Run, Saturday, March 14, 2015

Virginia

Charlottesville: Fix-A-Leak Family 5K, Sunday, March 22, 2015

 

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Newly Released Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool

PedestriansLast month, Austroads, the association of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, released a Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool. According to their website, "the Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool is designed to help Australian and New Zealand practitioners select the most appropriate type of pedestrian crossing based on walkability, safety and economic outcomes." They have produced a User Guide and will be offering more information about the tool at a webinar scheduled for Tuesday, March 10, 2015. The webinar has already filled up, but the site indicates it will be recorded and offered on the website at a later date for viewing.

The tool can be used to assess the following types of pedestrian facilities:

 
  • raised platforms,
  • kerb extensions,
  • median refuges,
  • zebra crossings,
  • signals,
  • grade separation,
  • or combinations of these facilities.

According to the User Guide, the tool can also be used to assess the following:

  • "Puffin signals: the default signal type assessed by the tool, in which all pedestrian green phases are associated with pedestrians actually crossing
  • Wombat crossing (Australia): treat as Zebra with platform and adjust posted/approach speed if required"

You can try out the tool by clicking this link: Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool Link, then reading the necessary guidance and inputs on the page, reading the disclaimer, and clicking the link at the bottom of the page to indicate your acceptance of their terms and to access the tool. Below are screenshots showing the top and bottom sections of the tool.

Pedestrian Selection Tool Top Section

 

 
Pedestrian Selection Tool Bottom Section

For each option, "the tool then evaluates pedestrian and vehicle delay, safe sight distances, pedestrian level of service and, using default economic parameters developed for each Australian jurisdiction and New Zealand, calculates a benefit cost ratio." And if you are interested in learning more about the research undertaken to support and develop this tool, you can check out this report: Development of the Australasian Pedestrian Selection Tool.

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