Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Deaths

The decades-long neglect of pedestrian safety in the design and use of American streets is exacting a heavy toll on our lives.Between 2000 and 2009 3,222 people were killed while walking in New York State costing the state $ 13.85 billion ( see all new york statistics here) .  In the last decade, from 2000 through 2009, more than 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States. On top of that, more than 688,000 pedestrians were injured over the decade, a number equivalent to a pedestrian being struck by a car or truck every 7 minutes.

The roads have gotten somewhat safer, but pedestrian fatalities have fallen at only half the rate of motorist fatalities, dropping by just over 14 percent during the period, compared to 27 percent for motor vehicle fatalities. In many places, including 15 of the country’s largest metro areas, pedestrian fatalities have actually increased, even as overall traffic deaths fell.

Nationwide, pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of total traffic deaths. But state departments of transportation have largely ignored pedestrian safety from a budgetary perspective, allocating only about 1.5 percent of available federal funds to projects that retrofit dangerous roads or create safe alternatives.

Transportation for America’s report recommends that the next federal transportation spending bill include the following provisions:

Retain dedicated federal funding for the safety of people on foot or on bicycle. Congress is currently contemplating elimination of dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and the Safe Routes to School program, the two largest funding sources for bike and pedestrian facilities.

Adopt a national complete streets policy. Ensure that all federally funded road projects take into account the needs of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation users, as well as children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities.

Fill in the gaps. Beyond making new and refurbished roads safer for pedestrians, we need to create complete networks of sidewalks, bicycle paths and trails so that residents can travel safely throughout an area.

Commit a fair share for safety. In 2008, only two states spent any of their Highway Safety funding to improve infrastructure for bicycling and walking. Yet, pedestrians and bicyclists make up 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Federal, state and local governments should set safety goals that not only reduce fatalities overall, but also reduce fatalities for individual modes, with separate safety goals for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and motorists.

 

 

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