I am a member of the “Sites Open to Public Travel” (SOPT) subcommittee of the group that develops the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The goal is to summarize and “adjust” the rules that apply to roads that are in private areas like shopping centers, airports, office developments and the like so architects, developers and managers can have a document that applies to their limited space.
This has been a learning experience for me, not only learning about Uniform Traffic Control Devices but also about how these manuals evolve. In this case a committee of about a dozen or so experts in the field (and me) review the different proposals for the section devoted to SOPT and hopefully come up with a clear, concise guide for owners and their staff’s to follow. Fortunately Mary Smith from Walker and Mike Swartz from Standard Parking are also on the committee so there is someone from the industry that actually knows something about the topic.
This involvement gives me a hint as to how laws are written in legislatures. Ideas are put forward, experts rip them apart, then a “collator” pulls the changes together, it is sent back out, and the process starts over again. Since we all have day jobs, this can take a considerable amount of time. But even so, it is fascinating to see how people who actually know about this stuff and will have to actually use the end result haggle over an “and” or and “or.” In the end, you get a document that can withstand the test of the layman and the test of time.
Our leader, Traffic Engineering Consultant Paul Box, opened the meeting today by commenting that he hoped that we would be able to finish before he died. The committee has been in existence for two years, meets twice a year, and its members discuss on line, sometimes strongly and in minute detail, throughout the year.
Paul, wise in his comments, noted that we should remember the quote from George Orwell in “1984.” All that is not compulsory is forbidden. He hoped we would ensure that the result of our work didn’t go so far that the users would be unable to do anything except what was in the hallowed innards of the forthcoming “Part 10.”