- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thousands of people are dying preventable deaths each year because roads and neighborhoods are designed to encourage speeding vehicles rather than pedestrians and bicyclists, a new report says. “Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods),” which was released Monday by Transportation for America, urges changes to policies and spending priorities to bring about safer roads.

Some of the facts at t4America.org/blog:

Inadequate facilities. Of the 9,168 pedestrian fatalities in 2007-08 for which the location of the collision is known, more than 40 percent were killed where no crosswalk was available.

Spending disparity. Though pedestrian fatalities make up 11.8 percent of all traffic-related fatalities, states have allocated less than 1.5 percent of total authorized transportation funds to projects aimed at improving safety for pedestrians (for funds spent under current transportation bill). No state spends more than 5 percent of federal transportation funds on safety features or programs for pedestrians or cyclists despite a 30 percent increase in total federal transportation dollars beginning in 2005.

Complete streets save lives. Providing sidewalks, crosswalks and designing for lower traffic speeds saves lives. Only one in 10 pedestrians deaths occurred within crosswalks, while six in 10 occurred on arterial-type roads where speeds were 40 mph or higher.

The danger is not shared equally. Older adults, disabled and low-income Americans are being killed at disproportionate rates. African-Americans, who walk for 50 percent more trips than whites, and Hispanic residents, who walk 40 percent more, are subjected to the least safe conditions and die disproportionately.

Aging in place, yet unable to leave the house on foot. An AARP poll of adults 50 years and older found that 40 percent reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods and nearly half of respondents reported that they could not safely cross the main roads close to their home.”

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