Pedestrian deaths keep rising in the U.S. Can Congress reverse the trend? - Curbed

For the past decade, about 13 people per day have been killed while walking in the U.S., a number that remains troublingly high even as other roadway deaths go down. Now a new federal bill intends to address the country’s increasing pedestrian deaths as a national crisis.

The Complete Streets Act, introduced yesterday in both houses of Congress by Sen. Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, and Rep. Steve Cohen, of Tennessee, would require states to aside five percent of federal highway funds for complete streets programs. Complete streets are defined as corridors that are redesigned to give all users of the street equal access to the roadway, with a special emphasis on safety for the most vulnerable users.

“Our roads and sidewalks are far more than a means of transportation, they are a means of economic growth and community development, and we must make them safe and accessible for everyone,” said Sen. Markey said in a statement. “Whether you are traveling by foot, spoke, or pass, everyone deserves ‘complete streets,’ and this legislation will help fund safe transportation options for the 21st century."

Under the act, states would have to demonstrate that a complete streets program is in place and create a plan for implementing the program before they could access federal highway funding. The plans would be vetted by metropolitan planning organizations, the organizations that coordinate regional planning among nearby cities.

The bill also proposes creating federal complete streets design standards, which would dictate the way multimodal roads are designed in the same way federal highway design is standardized.

Even as more than 100 U.S. cities have launched initiatives to eliminate traffic deaths, the number of pedestrian deaths in the country is higher than it’s been in almost 30 years. Drivers killed 50 percent more pedestrians in 2018 than in 2009, compared to European countries which have reduced pedestrian deaths by a third over the past decade.

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