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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Other Places Are Making Progress on Pedestrian vs Vehicle Deaths…Why hasn't Nashville? What can YOU do?

Nashville is currrently ranked the 15th most dangerous city to be a pedestrian in America. The only cities worse are in Florida. This statistic is based on pedestrian deaths per population. If the goal is 'safety first'…we, as a city, have some work to do. 

If you care about walkability - now is the time to have your voice heard.  The next mayor is listening & if you do not speak up she or he will not know that you are left wanting.

Let's take sidewalks, safety and walkability into the spotlight.  

  • Write to the mayoral candidates (& the current mayor while you are at it)  
    • Some have argued that Nashville's lack of progress is because Public Works is in control of the edge of private property to the edge of private property (the right of way).  Since they are their own seperate entitity - they do not have to work well with other departments such as planning and storm water.  Building more sidewalks would mean more maintenance work for Public Works - creating better walkability in Nashville appears to be a job Public Works is not highly interested in and certainly does not seem passionate about.  Ask the next mayor to consider de-siloing the seperate entities of planning and public works and, instead, moving them into a single department that works together.  
    • Ask that sidewalks and pedestrians change their status and become first class rather than 2nd or 3rd.   
  • Text your councilperson  
  • Call public works 
    • Request a sidewalk in your neighborhood. 
    • If development closes a sidewalk - request a covered protected walkways 
  • Send pictures of issues you have identified in your neighborhood & let me post them.  

How Sweden Is Eliminating Road Deaths
The life-saving power of street design

Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Sweden is on its way to reaching zero road deaths per year. It’s an incredible feat, coming from a peak in road deaths in the 1970s. In 1997, Sweden implemented a "Vision Zero" plan in hopes of eradicating all road deaths and injuries, and it has already cut the deaths by half since 2000. In 2012, just one child under seven years old was killed on a road, compared with 58 in 1970.

The Economist earlier in 2014 took a look at the data: The number of cars on the road and the distance driven have doubled since the '70s, yet just 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden in 2013, a record low. That represents just three deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 5.5 in the European Union and 11.4 in the U.S. (This European Commission report has additional data.)

How has Sweden done it? “We are going much more for engineering than enforcement,” Matts-Åke Belin, a government traffic safety strategist, told CityLab recently.

Sweden has rebuilt roads to prioritize safety over speed and other considerations. This includes the creation of "2 + 1" roads, three-lane streets consisting of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other; the extra lane alternates between directions to allow for passing. That design saved roughly 145 lives during the first 10 years of Vision Zero, according to The Economist.

Sweden has also created 12,600 safer pedestrian crossings with features such as bridges, flashing lights, and speed bumps. That’s estimated to have halved pedestrian deaths over the past five years. The country has lowered speed limits in urban, crowded areas and built barriers to protect bikers from oncoming traffic. A crackdown on drunk driving has also helped.

Others are studying the Swedish model. New York has also adopted a Vision Zero plan, which includes the implementation of slow zones and increased police enforcement of speeding laws. As a result, it's never been safer to cross a street in New York City. Just 131 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2014, a record low.


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