Engineers, city officials, and regular ordinary people who walk or bike to their destinations, are helping to spread awareness of the need for complete streets. Unlike traditional US roadways that were designed with only the needs of cars and trucks, complete streets consider all users in their design, including those on foot or bikes. Whether that involves completely new design or retrofitting existing streets with new features, responsive roads are key to safety. Here are some facts you may not know about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
1- Communities that encourage biking and walking are a high priority for the US Department of Transportation. These have been coined “livable communities,” and have the goal of providing safe transportation of all kinds to all its citizens.
2- FHWA has taken aggressive action to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians by providing free assistance to cities and states with the highest biker/walker fatality rates. Latest data on which areas are included can be seen on this map.
3. Most bike crashes take place in urban areas, between 6-9 pm, and not at intersections. Most bicyclists that are killed or injured are male and the average age has slowly inched upward over a 10 year period from 39 to 44.
4. Dedicated bike lanes really do make a difference. One study in New York found that injury rates fell significantly on roads where protected bike lanes were installed. In San Jose, CA, protected bike lane curbing is used to physically diverts vehicles from bike lanes.
5. Walking and biking are growing in popularity and are healthy for the body and the environment. However, since vehicles move so much faster than legs or bikes, pedestrians and cyclists are always at a disadvantage when sharing the road. Effective complete streets not only are responsive to the needs of all users but require effort from all as well. Safer streets certainly need better design such as walking or bike lanes and vehicle slowing measures such as speed humps, road narrowing, and speed display signs. However, most importantly, they need the care and concern of drivers, riders, and walkers to share the road with everyone who uses it.