November 17, 2009

DOT Safety Council to address pedestrian safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) Safety Council will take up the issue of pedestrian safety and work with advocacy groups to make America's streets safer for everyone.

"The right of way doesn't just belong to cars - it belongs to pedestrians and bicyclists as well," said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. "The DOT Safety Council is going to look at this report and work with advocacy groups to ensure our streets are as safe as possible."

Secretary LaHood made the commitment during a meeting with Transportation for America and six coalition partners prompted by last week's release of a report documenting preventable pedestrian deaths nationwide. More than 100 localities and states have adopted complete streets policies, requiring that urban and suburban roadways be designed for the safety and comfort of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation riders alike.

According to Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), there were more than 76,000 preventable pedestrian deaths over the last 15 years in America. That statistic is roughly equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every month. Most pedestrians were killed on streets designed exclusively to move vehicles, with little or no provision for the protection of people on foot or bicycle, the authors found.

"Secretary LaHood's leadership on the entire issue of safety is welcome, indeed," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. "In elevating pedestrian and bicyclist safety to a national priority, the Secretary is taking a long overdue step that will help to save lives, promote healthy levels of exercise in Americans' everyday lives and make our neighborhoods, towns and cities even better places to live."

During the meeting, representatives of the Transportation for America coalition presented the Secretary with a petition signed by more than 4,000 Americans in the days following last week's report release. Dangerous by Design was co-produced by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, Transportation for America and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

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