Access management is the planning, design and implementation of land use and transportation strategies that control the flow of traffic between the road and surrounding land; control of driveways and access points between streets and private property. Access management could be addressed in the roads subsection of a plan. However, access management is a critical issue facing ***** Township, warranting its own subsection.
When access management is poor, there are increased conflict points – areas where vehicle travel routes cross paths. A large amount of conflict points results in an unpredictable traffic pattern, lower traffic speeds, and an increased potential for accidents. The investment the public has made in roadways, and their careful design, is degraded
Conflict points should be minimized and spaced as far apart as possible. Drivers can only mentally process one conflict point at a time. Separation of conflict points provides more time and space for drivers to react to unexpected events. Conflict points and other poor access features also increase speed differential – the speed of the fastest traffic on a road versus the speed of the slowest traffic entering a road -- between through traffic and turning traffic.
Greater speed differential results in more rear end collisions. According to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, 50% to 60% of all vehicle accidents are access-related.
***** Township has no access management policy or requirements. In many communities, access management is a problem because there are individual driveways for each business, with many having multiple driveways. In ***** Township, the problem is worse; most businesses do not even have defined driveways or curb cuts. There is no separation of the street and private property; business parking lots touch the street along the entire property frontage.
The continuous curb cuts, as such access is called by traffic engineers, creates an infinite amount of vehicle conflict points. Continuous curb cuts create a very unsafe pedestrian environment, because vehicles can cross a pedestrian path anywhere. Continuous curb cuts make it difficult for a driver to spot the correct entrance to a business. They also increase stormwater runoff, eliminate any visual buffer between the street and a building, and present an unkempt and makeshift appearance of a commercial district.
***** Township can adopt commercial access management requirements by an amendment to its zoning regulation, working in cooperation with the ***** County Engineer. A barrier to implementation, though, may be resistance from businesses who feel controlled access creates a perception of more difficult access among their customers – they have to pull into a driveway from the road, instead of just veering off the road in front of the business – so vehicle access is no longer "easy." Studies performed by many state transportation departments have concluded strong access management policies do not hurt local businesses.