Hear the recap: "Dangerous By Design 2014" online discussion

dbd-2014 (1)Yesterday, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition released Dangerous by Design 2014, a report documenting preventable pedestrian fatalities and what can be done to make our streets safer for everyone.

We hosted an online discussion with experts working on strategies and tactics to improve pedestrian safety in cities and towns nationwide.

If you weren’t able to join yesterday’s event, the recorded version is now available.

Watch the archived webinar

Speakers on yesterday’s call included Craig Chester, Press Manager, Smart Growth America; Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director, National Complete Streets Coalition; Corinne Kisner, Program Manager, Designing Cities Initiative at National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO); Steven Spears, Principal, Design Workshop; and Amanda Day from Best Foot Forward in Orlando, FL.

Seskin gave an overview of the chilling statistics: over 47,000 people killed while walking over the decade 2003 through 2012 and an estimated additional 676,000 seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash while walking. As the report makes a clear case that this is a national issue in need of attention in every region, it also makes recommendations for action. The most immediate? Ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to follow Congressional intent and hold states accountable for setting and making real progress toward reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries suffered by motorized and non-motorized travelers.

Corinne Kisner followed, discussing “the urgency of safe street design” for pedestrians. She explained the approaches and tools available in NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide to counterbalance the legacy of community streets built to ensure fast-moving automobile traffic and which are, consequently, less-friendly—and often dangerous—to people walking. Applying low-cost interim design strategies provides safety benefits and allows communities to test out possible solutions while putting together the resources to make such safety changes permanent. She encouraged cities and states to review and endorse the guide, if they hadn’t already, to spark conversations about safe multimodal street design in neighborhoods.

Steven Spears then inspired participants to make their streets not just safe for people on foot, but welcoming. Speaking specifically about Houston, TX’s midtown district and the reconstruction of Bagby Street, Spears explained that streets are not just a right of way but also an integral part in the public realm and key to sustainable communities. He discussed the “larger systems at play in creating successful streets,” including actual transportation demands now and in the future and changes in land use patterns along a corridor. This means that the appropriate design solution can vary block-by-block, united by common design materials. At the ribbon cutting for the project, Mayor Annise Parker announced her commitment to a citywide Complete Streets approach via an executive order.

Amanda Day, the Project Director of Bike Walk Central Florida, shared her experiences in making pedestrian safety a priority in the Orlando area. How did they do it? “Try taking the top honors for the most dangerous area for walkers,” she said, referring to the 2011 Dangerous by Design report as well as the update released yesterday. Leaders from a variety of groups—transportation, health, and enforcement among them—worked together on a pedestrian safety action plan for the three-county region. The first year’s efforts focused on boosting the number of people driving cars who yielded to people in crosswalks (as required by law in Florida), getting great results through low-cost engineering treatments on streets with lower speed limits, enforcement and education efforts.

Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s call. The event provided great information on planning, designing and operating streets to be safer for all users, with specific recommendations for our federal and state leaders to undertake.

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