What We’re Reading: Safer Streets

  • Author: Andrew Carpenter
  • Date: September 7, 2017



A lot has come out in recent weeks about the myriad factors behind improving road safety – and not just for people in cars, but for all users including pedestrians and cyclists. These analyses are important for mobility managers to consider as they advocate for their communities, either through or parallel to Vision Zero – a growing initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Pursuing Vision Zero, or the principles at its foundation, provides people the options they need to access their community. The articles this week stress the importance of knowing how to do this correctly, and with mobility in mind.

For context, it helps to understand actions that are counterproductive to improving safety. Victim-blaming pedestrians is counterproductive, placing an undue burden on vulnerable populations while removing responsibility from those in a position of power. Instead, focusing on their safety from a broader perspective makes it better for everybody to reach their destination.

On a national level, two major safety organizations, the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Transportation Safety Board, are beginning to recognize systemic issues in street safety, especially those that affect behavior like street design and speed limits. These structural aspects play a much larger role in bike or pedestrian safety than individual actions. This progress is particularly important for mobility managers since, as the article points out, since they hold a lot of sway over state departments of transportation.

Even cities that are historically car-centric and unfriendly to bikes or pedestrians have begun to dip their toes into the concepts that improve safety and mobility for all road users. For example, in Miami officials have begun piloting complete streets – infrastructure designed to provide safe access for all users, especially pedestrians and bikes – in their downtown by adding color coded bike and bus only lanes and reducing the speed limit from 35 to 25 miles per hour.

Other cities or counties have begun to collect data on dangerous roads, including Hillsborough County in Florida, which has recorded more traffic deaths per resident than any other large county in the U.S. In response, the county has identified its 20 most dangerous roads, created plans to build bike lanes while narrowing car lanes, and implemented other data-based improvements.

We’ve highlighted this concept in a few other What We’re Reading posts, but tactical urbanism – when citizens take it upon themselves to modify their built environment – keeps popping up in various contexts. One way for Mobility managers to engage on this locally is to work with tactical urbanism projects that appear in their communities. These projects provide a straightforward, human-centered understanding of trouble spots where road users don’t feel safe. And it is important to note that this goes beyond big cities: small towns can embrace it, too.


Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Andrew Carpenter (carpenter@ctaa.org).

Image Credit: Brenna, Flickr


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Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

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