Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dangerous By Design

The "Dangerous By Design" report was recently released by Transportation For America. It's a great article, and we HIGHLY recommend that you read it. If you spend even a small amount of time walking or biking in Omaha, this report should be interesting to you.

You can read the short version of the report, or the long version(PDF) if you have the time.

You can also read about U.S. DOT Secretary LaHood's response to the report to see how this report is already turning some heads in Washington.
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.


dale said...

I perused the contents of the long version and pulled the following from interested sections:

Since 1991, Portland, Ore., has seen bicycling increase at a rate of at least 10 percent every year, with modest investments in bicycle infrastructure. So far, Portland’s bikeway network cost $57 million, and over the next decades the city plans to invest another $100 million to reach a bicycle mode share of 20 percent or more.(37)

Omaha has 78% of Portland's population. Over 18 years, Portland averaged $3M/yr. They are upping that to $10M/yr. Omaha has built the 80+ miles of Metro Trail system and $600k of private money for 20 miles of striped lanes. Omaha needs to more highly prioritize bicycle and walking level of service in the transportation plan/budget.

Why? For our physical, mental, economic, and environmental well-being.

Transportation is the second largest expense for American households, costing more than food, clothing, health care, and even housing in some metro areas. Even before the recent increase in gasoline prices, Americans spent an average of 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, with the poorest fifth of families spending more than double that figure. These transportation expenses can be reduced if local infrastructure encourages active transportation and improves safety, which reduces the costs of healthcare and congestion and increases reinvestment in communities.(45)

dale said...

What kind of design changes are needed?

Vehicle speed presents the greatest threat to pedestrians. (38)

Designing streets for slower speeds through traffic calming is far more effective over the long-term than traditional speed enforcement.(38)

Specific calming strategies, such as designing narrower roads with fewer traffic lanes, landscaping in the center median of urban arterials, and raised center medians (which give pedestrians a safe refuge when they are halfway across the road) are associated with significantly lower crash risk to pedestrians.(38, 40)

In most cases, road diets turn a four-lane road with modest traffic levels into a two-lane road with a middle turning lane, two bicycle lanes, and on-street parking or wider sidewalks.(38)

As of the writing of this report, more than 100 communities and states across the country have adopted Complete Streets policies directing transportation planners and engineers to consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.(42)

dale said...

Besides slowing traffic to increases safety, we need to reduce the volume of traffic. Here is a biggy.

As much as one-quarter of local traffic had been attributed to the school rush, so Marin County officials saw the [Safe Routes to School] program as a way to reduce traffic congestion as well.(43)

Not only does it reduce traffic, but much of the non CO2 pollution from autos comes in the first few minutes when the catalytic converter is not hot enough to function efficiently.

AOJules said...

You should see the jaws drop when I talk to PTA's about Safe Routes to School and I tell them that the worst air quality in Omaha can be found around our schools at drop off/pick up time.

Transportation is the 2nd largest expense for American households... and active transportation has a positive benefit on health ... which reduces our health care costs... and yet all we want to talk about is health care reform. hmmmm.