A new report ranking the nation’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking finds that ‘incomplete’ streets are a major culprit in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Dangerous by Design, from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, finds that as many as forty percent of fatal pedestrian crashes are in places where no crosswalk was available, and that arterials designed only for cars are the most dangerous.
The report analyzes the more than 9,000 pedestrian deaths in the US in 2007 and 2008, and its findings are reflected in accounts of pedestrian deaths in the news media. The National Complete Streets Coalition has compiled a painful chronicle of fatalities (.pdf) in which an unsafe pedestrian environment played a role.
“This report shows that making isolated safety improvements after a crash is not enough,” says Barbara McCann, Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “We need Complete Streets policies that ensure that every road is planned and designed from the outset for the safety of everyone who will be using it – whether driving, walking, bicycling, or getting on a bus. Complete streets are not only safe, but help create more attractive, livable communities.”
The report also calls attention to the low levels of investment of federal funds in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure – less than 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars over the last few years. We know that a cost-efficient way to improve pedestrian safety is to consider their needs as part of every road project – that is what the Complete Streets Act of 2009 would do. It would require states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to adopt Complete Streets policies that would apply to federally-funded projects. In essence, this could turn just about every road project into one that improves safety for pedestrians.
Please ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor the Complete Streets Act of 2009 and sign Transportation for America’s petition to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
At a minimum, Complete Streets policies will help stop the bleeding – ending egregious road-building practices that too often leave pedestrians tramping in the grass – and running for their lives. For more, check out:
- A November 3rd Streetsblog post that focuses on the deadly toll of incomplete streets for people with disabilities.
- A slideshow with some examples of incomplete streets on our Flickr page.
- And what happens when streets are transformed.
More than 100 communities across the country have made a commitment to complete their streets – and today the editorial board for the Ft. Myers News-Presss called for passage of a Complete Streets policy in their county. Let’s hope many others follow their example.