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Annual Report of Bureau for Traffic Research Stresses Scientific Approach

Objective of Department to Use Science for Cure of Street Problems


Following is the policy of the Bureau for Street Traffic Research as set forth in the yearly report.

When founded in 1925 the Bureau for Street Traffic Research was dedicated to the principle that the street and high-way traffic problem deserves the same type of scientific approach that has been applied to the solution of other major social and economic problems. This objective has never been altered.

A Growing Problem

The scientific approach differs from other approaches in that it demands that action be based upon competent factual information. It is for this reason that research has always formed an important part of the Bureau program. Without accurate knowledge of the functional parts of the problem it is impossible to design sound principles or practices, and this is especially true in dealing with a new problem and one that is growing and changing so rapidly. All good university activities now incorporate research programs as an integral part of the processes of learning as witness public health and business administration among many others.

Despite the amount of effort that has been expended upon the traffic problem it must be recognized by any sincere student that we are now familiar with only the rudiments of cause and effect in traffic operations. A much broader program of scientific research is required from Federal, State, local and academic agencies, which have already made important contributions.

Congestion Important

The research program of the Harvard Bureau has differed in one respect from that conducted by others. While the safety factor has always been recognized as the most important part of the problem, the Harvard bureau has been equally interested in the factor of congestion as it affects the fullest and most efficient use of automotive transportation. Thus, much of its research energy has been and will continue to be devoted to a study of the "business" aspects of street and highway transport. This is especially demonstrated in its studies of new and more efficient types of street construction which it is gratifying to note is now receiving such wide attention.

All of the research activities have been upon subjects of immediate and future practical importance. The staff has attempted at all times to be realistic, and thus the Bureau has had the good fortune to have the continuing cooperation of officials and agencies with responsibility for the solution of specific problems and types of problems.

Training Sound Minds

No matter how valid research conclusions may be, they are impotent unless they are applied. This application can come only through minds that are trained in sound methods and practical application. Thus, as a part of its "scientific approach" the Bureau has emphasized its training program.

Through the grants of the Automotive Foundation this program has been refined and expanded to a point commensurate with current requirements. The fifteenth annual fellowships have drawn the best young engineering brains from all parts of the country into traffic engineering and administration. These men are then returned to administrative positions where they can give practical effect to the principles they have learned and where they may in turn become practical teachers of their administrative associates. Twenty-seven students graduated by the Harvard Bureau all held important traffic control positions, justifying the belief that American cities and states are eager for trained personnel. In addition in the last fourteen months more than two hundred men now in traffic positions have been given intensive training in summer courses. Inevitably these men will have a deep influence upon technical and administrative practices in their particular jurisdictions and through example over the regions in which they operate.

Bureau Stands Pat

There has been no reason to modify the original belief that the ultimate solution of the traffic problem lies in sound principles, intelligently applied.

The Harvard Bureau does not seek to change its policies, nor to broaden the field of its activities. It hopes, however, to be able to continue and refine its functions and to make such contributions as are within its power to the activities of all organizations and agencies who have as their goal a more intelligent and efficient system of automotive transportation

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