planting for today and future generations

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Street Trees, Safety, and Helena’s Sight Distance Triangle Ordinance

A study proposal, Fall 2017

Nearly a quarter of the trees in Helena’s old boulevard districts could disappear because of the City’s new interpretation of existing city ordinance. The sight distance triangle ordinance governs, among other things, how trees are planted near intersections. As the old trees die, many will not be replaced because of this recent change in enforcement. Supposedly it’s about safety. We have accident data from the Montana Department of Transportation that could suggest otherwise.

Here are the maps of some accident data. One shows injury accidents on local streets; the other, collisions with fixed objects. Not many accidents in Helena fall in these categories but these are the ones that concern trees. It’s not obvious the accident rate on streets with boulevard trees differs from the rate on those without. The collision data seem even clearer: trees look less accident-prone than utility poles and traffic signals. These maps aren’t definitive; the conclusions could be weaker or stronger when all the data are considered. Still, we hope these maps make people curious.

We know that more detailed analysis is needed. And we know we’re just volunteer tree planters, not professional data analysts. That’s why we have suggested partnering with the City to do a study. Growing Friends has worked with City staff planting trees and it’s clear they want to improve our boulevard districts, too. We’re still hoping for a positive answer from the City Manager and the City Commission about the study.

Injury Accidents on Local Streets

Local Street Injury Crashes

Fixed Object Crashes

FIxed Object Crashes

Pharmacy online here:Sinemet