Guest Post by Bryant Ficek, PE, PTOE, Vice President at Spack Consulting.
The Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Annual Meeting was held in Anaheim, California a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. While primarily there as an exhibitor for CountingCars.com, I did manage to attend a few of the sessions and had a great time talking with colleagues from across the nation. Here’s my top five take-aways from the meeting:
- Vehicle Level of Service (LOS) Is on Its Way Out
Whether it continues to expand to weigh multi-modal factors or gets replaced by other metrics, our current process for traffic impact studies will not be the same in a few years. There will be bumps in the road and lots of trial & error as new methods are explored, but the writing is on the wall. Everyone should be paying attention to California’s experiment with moving to Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and sample reports using this method that should be out later this year/early next year.
- There Are Still Lots of Unknowns About Autonomous Vehicles
This statement surprises absolutely no one. There are lots of pilot projects, lots of policy ideas, and lots of very smart and talented people looking to transform our way to travel to be safer, easier, and more accessible. It’s both exciting and a little scary to think about the possibilities. Is this how people felt when Henry Ford first started rolling out his car for the masses?
- Innovation Continues
Besides autonomous vehicles, more options are available to help improve safety, efficiency, and connectivity. From improving signal operations and alternative intersections to sharing infrastructure and dedicated multi-modal options, we have more ways available to move people and goods than ever. I want to see more of this. Along these lines, the FHWA currently has a program called ‘Every Day Counts’. They are on Round 4 of presenting and discussing “proven, but underutilized innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce congestion and improve environmental sustainability.” Learn more here.
- Communication Remains Very Important
Obviously writing good reports about our studies is important. Equally important is how to present that information to the general public, to peers, to councils and boards, etc. There are lots of opportunities to practice and work on this skill (toastmasters, local ITE chapter luncheons, even community theater as one speaker noted). Be sure to include it on your list of goals to becoming a better engineer and/or planner.
- The Kids Are Alright
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a group of students from the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, Cal Polytechnic State, South Florida, and Texas A&M (forgive me if I missed one). They had great energy and drive (congrats Purdue in winning the Traffic Bowl) as well as a thirst for knowledge. I look forward to seeing the next group enter the professional world and start to make their mark.
I’m also looking forward to hosting the 2018 Annual Meeting here in Minneapolis.
Did you visit the ITE Annual Meeting? I would love to hear your thoughts on the meeting and interesting things you learned from the event.