Reading Confessions of a Recovering Engineer

I was researching Standards to complete a project just the other day and I stopped to ask myself why I always explain to people why standards are NOT the bible of design.  Standards for kitchen cabinets were set to lower costs and support a “non-use” kitchen as baking was going out of style and the argument goes on and on.  Strong Towns caught my eye with this article I link to from Grist Confessions of a Recovering Engineer.  I have included an excerpt below:

When they objected to the cost of the wider, faster, treeless road that would turn their peaceful front yard into the viewing area for a drag strip unless they built a concrete barricade along their front property line, I informed them that progress was sometimes expensive, but these standards have been shown to work across the state, the country, and the world, and I could not compromise with their safety.

In retrospect I understand that this was utter insanity. Wider, faster, treeless roads not only ruin our public places, they kill people. Taking highway standards and applying them to urban and suburban streets, and even county roads, costs us thousands of lives every year. There is no earthly reason why an engineer would ever design a 14-foot lane for a city block, yet we do it continually. Why?

The answer is utterly shameful: Because that is the standard.

Leave a Reply