Speaking “Engineer-ese”: Alta Staff Trainers

By Joe Gilpin, Principal

Regardless of whether you live in Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine, or anywhere in between; improving our communities for active transportation requires change. This change must occur at a political level, continue to be supported at the staff level, and be accepted by the public in order to achieve success. This change is scary for many as it represents extra effort, unknown consequences, fears of liability, and the potential for public backlash. Communities across the nation all exist somewhere within the process of changing how we think about transportation, prioritizing different modes, and designing for safety and mobility for all users. Some are farther along on the path while others are just beginning.

At Alta, we have learned that there are many ways that we can help communities to advance how active transportation and complete streets are perceived. We know that in many cases, the acceptance and enthusiasm for a complete streets design with bicycle-, pedestrian-, and transit-specific features can be accelerated.

Alta has numerous staff across North America who are certified to provide NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Street Design Guide trainings.

Good planning and policies are all crucial foundations to improve our streets and public places; however, agency staff support for designs that change the traditional methods and practices can be met with resistance and skepticism at a variety of levels that can slow or jeopardize the pace and effectiveness of new projects. One way to accelerate the acceptance of new design principles is to conduct a staff training on complete streets or bikeway/pedestrian facility design. This recent interview with a North Carolina DOT engineer highlights the value of such types of training:

“I do specifically remember driving back from our first pedestrian safety class in Raleigh and asking my Assistant Traffic Engineer if he had ever seen anything so crazy. After our second class, I remember saying something to the effect of, ‘That makes sense, but it would never work in our area.’ After our third class, I said that we would have to find a place to try some of those things.”

Alta offers a variety of training methods and types that advance the understanding and acceptance of complete streets principles, as well as design approaches. Our staff are certified National Complete Streets Instructors, ADA/PROWAG Instructors, National Safe Routes to School Instructors, League of American Bicyclists “League Certified Instructors,” and, most recently, NACTO Urban Bikeway and Street Design Guide trainers.

Benefits that attendees gain with our training programs include:

  • Opportunity to see support for complete streets principles at the city, county, region, or state level
  • Improved understanding of purpose, operations, and context of a variety of bicycle, pedestrian and/or transit treatments
  • Interactive forum for asking questions in a group setting
  • Understanding of how new treatments complement and comply with existing Federal guidance, the MUTCD, and AASHTO publications
  • Interactive design activities to immediately apply what they have learned

We customize our training programs for each community and fill them with examples of real projects in peer communities. Our staff are knowledgeable about the latest research and developments at the national level to accurately convey the current state of the practice, the performance, and the level of acceptance for new designs.

Take a step forward and contact us about bringing Alta trainers to your community!