Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dangerous By Design

Transportation for America just released a report on pedestrian safety, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods).
In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community. More than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.
While the report is mostly about pedestrian safety, bicycle funding was also addressed:
The 52 largest metro areas averaged annual spending of federal funds on bicycle and pedestrian projects of just $1.39 per person. The average metro area spends 2.2 percent of their federal transportation funds on projects to improve conditions for walking and bicycling. The average in Washington was $1.19.
The report was covered by the Post in the article Pedestrian safety study ranks D.C. in middle
Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, authored a study of the region's traffic fatalities last year.

"With pedestrians comprising over 21 percent of traffic fatalities in the region, we should be spending far more making our streets safer for pedestrians," she said.
With help from groups like Transportation for America, there will be an increased amount of funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects in the next Transportation bill passed by Congress.

[Update: Nov. 13, 2009] A sad fact in the report that we didn't mention, as pointed out by Douglas Stewart of Fairfax Suburbanista, is that Virginia ranks last in Federal spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects. There are actually two categories in which Virginia, during 2005-2008, is last, Percent of Total Federal Funding Spent on Pedestrian & Bicycle Projects (0.3%, national ave. is 1.5%) and Spending per Capita under SAFETEA-LU ($0.22, national ave. is $1.46). Virginia spent half as much SAFETEA-LU funds as the 49th state, and 15% of the national average.

To put it bluntly, that's pathetic. Remember those numbers the next time you testify in favor of funding for bicycle projects in Virginia. In fact, on December 1 VDOT will hold public hearings on the Six Year "Improvement" Program, and you can send comments today to Six-YearProgram@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

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