05/24/10

Dangerous By DesignDangerous By Design

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2011
Contact: Hilary Reeves, 651-789-1415, cell:  612-554-1795, hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org

 

Twin Cities in top 15 for Pedestrian Safety--but still too many intersections without crosswalks

 

  • 12% of all traffic deaths are people walking
  • 1.5% of federal funding is for projects making walking safer
  • 17%  increase in walking in the Twin Cities, 2007-2010

(Saint Paul, Minn)--Walking is the first and most basic form of transportation. Nearly everyone is a pedestrian at some point each day, even if it is simply walking from home to the bus stop or from the car to the office. Walking is on the rise in the Twin Cities, increasing 17% between 2007-2010, according to data from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

While Minnesota ranks better than many states in the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities, there are glaring exceptions, according to the 2011 report, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), released today by Transportation for America. The report also includes an interactive map that allows searching for pedestrian deaths near any town in the US.

Between 2000-2009, 415 pedestrians were killed in Minnesota . While Minnesota is doing better than most states, ranking 39th of 50 in terms of pedestrian risk, crashes and fatalities are much higher for the elderly, children, and people of color, and at intersections without crosswalks or other features that make roads safe for all users.

Pedestrian Fatality Rates

  • Older Americans 50% more likely than those younger than 65
  • Hispanics 71% higher rate of fatalities than non-Hispanic whites
  • African Americans 127% higher rate of fatalities than non-Hispanic whites
  • For children 15 or younger, pedestrian injury 3rd leading cause of death by unintentional injury

Last November, a 38 year old woman was killed crossing Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis at an intersection that did not have a crosswalk. Nationally, only 10% of pedestrian fatalities occurred inside a crosswalk. But, funding for making walking safer lags far behind the rate at which people walk to get around. While pedestrians account for 12% of all traffic deaths, only 1.5% of federal transportation funding goes o projects that retrofit roads or create safe alternatives.

"Design matters. At Bike Walk Twin Cities, we're working with local jurisdictions to address some of the most dangerous corridors and intersections," said Joan Pasiuk, director of Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

Here are three projects to make walking safer funded by Bike Walk Twin Cities as part of the federal nonmotorized pilot program, authorized in the 2005 federal transportation law, SAFETEA-LU. Congress is considering whether to continue funding for walking and bicycling projects in the next transportation bill.

Cedar & Washington Avenues (also known as "7 Corners") in Minneapolis

Problem: Data from the Minneapolis Traffic Database indicates that 11 crashes occurred at the intersection of Cedar and Washington between 2002-2006, more than 2 deaths per year. The intersection is a busy one for truck traffic and for people too, especially given the proximity of the University of Minnesota.

Solution: Bike Walk Twin Cities awarded $765,000 to the City of Minneapolis to add medians and extend curbs so that pedestrians don't have to cover such a long distance when crossing. The changes would make it safer for people, but also accommodate trucks turning.

Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis

Problem: Franklin Avenue is noted in City of Minneapolis Traffic Crash Trend reports as a top pedestrian crash corridor, with 58 crashes along the route between 2002-2006. . "The biggest challenge faced by pedestrians on Franklin Avenue is crossing the street," said Katya Pilling, associate director of Seward Redesign. "At one point along the Avenue, a four-lane thoroughfare stands between a residential tower (with affordable housing for mostly East-African immigrant families) and the greenspace for their children; there is not a safe, direct crossing between the tower and greenspace," she said.

Solution: To deal with the intersections neighborhood residents identified as the most crucial, BWTC provided $62,000 to add curb extensions to narrow the crossing at 24th and 25th Avenues, add a crosswalk at Franklin and 24th, and for more countdown timers to aid safe crossing at Franklin and 26th Avenue. Pedestrian crossing signs also will be added.

44th, Penn& Osseo, North Minneapolis & Robbinsdale

Problem: This area, where three roads come together on the north side of Minneapolis, is a primary business node, but crossing on foot is prohibited on three of the four north-south crossings even though the intersection is served by several bus routes. The Victory Memorial Parkway section of the Grand Rounds bicycle trail is just to the north of the intersection.

Solution: Bike Walk Twin Cities is funding preliminary design , or "plan sets" for bike lanes and improved crossings for pedestrians, as well as suggestions for improving the overall pedestrian environment.

More roads in Minnesota could see similar improvements because Minnesota also has taken the key step of making "Complete Streets" the policy of the state. This policy means that Mn/DOT can work with communities to design new road projects and reconstruction projects with features that make them safer for a variety of users--from cars to bicyclists, to people walking or using wheelchairs, from the elderly to kids.

On the national level, the Safe and Complete Streets bill is being considered; it would make money available to states for these types of projects. Minnesota already has a Complete Streets policy at the state level, though it is less than a year old.

"Mn/DOT and seventeen local Minnesota communities have already stepped up with Complete Streets policies to make their roads safer for everyone, including pedestrians. But there is still much work to be done to improve safety for people walking and we need the federal government as a strong leader and partner for that effort. This report drives home that need and offers concrete steps that deserve action," said Ethan Fawley, transportation policy director for Fresh Energy.

"Some in Congress have questioned the federal interest in keeping pedestrians safe, believing it to be a strictly local issue," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. "Given the rising cost of gas, more and more people are getting out of their cars and seeking alternative forms of transportation. As demand increases, so too does the need to make sure that all of our roads are safe for everyone. Congress must stop punting on a long-term transportation bill and prioritize the safety of all road users and give states the resources they need to stem the tide of preventable deaths." The full report, Dangerous By Design: http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/

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ABOUT BIKE WALK TWIN CITIES

A program of Transit for Livable Communities, Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) runs the Minneapolis-area location of the federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program, authorized in the 2005 federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. Working with local jurisdictions, BWTC has invested more than $22 million to increase bicycling and walking as a means of transportation. BWTC has funded more than 75 miles of new bikeways and sidewalks (including the Riverlake Greenway, set to open June 11), innovative projects (including Nice Ride Minnesota bike sharing and the Sibley Bike Depot Community Partners Bike Library), outreach, planning, and measurement. BWTC's annual counts of nonmotorized transportation show that walking is up 17% from 2007-2010 and bicycling up 33%. For more about BWTC, visit, http://www.bikewalktwincities.org

 

ABOUT TRANSPORTATION FOR AMERICA

Transportation for America (T4 America) is the largest, most diverse coalition working on transportation reform today. Our nation's transportation network is based on a policy that has not been significantly updated since the 1950's. We believe it is time for a bold new vision in transportation that guarantees our freedom to move however we choose and leads to a stronger economy, greater energy security, cleaner environment and healthier America for all of us. We're calling for more responsible investment of our federal tax dollars to create a safer, cleaner, smarter transportation system that works for everyone. www.t4america.org