Tuesday, November 10, 2009

American Roadways: Dangerous by Design

In 2008 alone, over 70,000 pedestrians in the United States suffered injury in an accident involving motor vehicles. And over the past 15 years, 76,000 pedestrians have been killed on American roadways; that's the equivalent of twenty-five 911 terrorist attacks.

Yet US spending on security-related issues dwarfs the funding of walkable infrastructure. According to Transportation for America's recent report - Dangerous by Design - federal funding for for walking and bicycling infrastructure last year in major metropolitan areas was a meager $1.39 per person. Conversely, appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security alone amounted to about $145 per person - over 100 times the investment afforded to sidewalks and bike paths.

Sadly, almost all of those deaths and injuries are avoidable. The culprit: automobile-only street designs. Taking pedestrians and bicyclists into account when designing roadways, a concept know as "complete streets," creates a healthy and safe environment for alternative transportation.

If this country is outraged by a terrorist attack that kills 3000 people, shouldn't we be at least as concerned about the continued design and construction of unsafe streets that facilitate the needless killing and maiming of much greater numbers of US citizens?

Link here to an NPR report on pedestrian-friendly roads. And check out the Transportation for America website for tons of info on walkable and bikable streets, including an index of pedestrian safety by state and for the top 360 metro areas in the United States.

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