Seven Ideas for Safer Streets in You Town

Across the country, 35,092 people died on our nation’s roads in 2015.

That is a 7.2 percent increase over the previous year.

To address this serious issue and begin working toward making roadway fatalities a thing of the past.

Secretary Anthony Foxx, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and partners in the transportation community joined forces, enlisted the support of one of the nation’s most influential safety groups – the National Safety Council – and launched the Road to Zero Coalition.

(Powerful Video, courtesy of SharetheRoadtoZero and YouTube)

Road to Zero is more than a slogan.

It’s a goal that will take time to reach, and it will require significant effort from everyone, but we at FHWA are prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed in eliminating roadway fatalities.

In 2017 we hope to begin to turn the tide.

When it comes to bicycle and pedestrian fatalities, there are proven strategies and resources to improve safety, including the following.

1. Dig into the FHWA Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation

  • With this agenda, FHWA will continue to lead on pedestrian and bicycle transportation issues, in part by promoting pedestrian and bicycle planning, design and safety resources; convening peer exchanges; spreading the word about existing and updated policies; fostering active public participation in the planning and decision-making process; and leading pedestrian and bicycle assessments and audits.
  • The strategic agenda will guide FHWA’s pedestrian and bicycle activities in the next 3 to 5 years and is organized around four goals: networks, safety, equity and trips.
  • Each goal includes actions relating to capacity building, policy, data and research.

2. Think multimodal with Achieving Multimodal Networks: Applying Design Flexibility and Reducing Conflicts

Methods for Incorporating bikeways (Image Credit: FHA)Methods for Incorporating bikeways (Image Credit: FHA)
  • This FHWA publication can help planners, engineers and other practitioners make areas more bike-ped friendly through better intersection design, road diets (see below for more information on road diets) and pedestrian crossings, while addressing transit and school access, freight movement and accessibility for all road users.
  • Best of all, it shows how design flexibility can be applied while focusing on reducing multimodal conflicts and achieving connected networks.

(Powerful video ‘You Decide Who Lives or Dies’. Courtesy of Marcus Ua Donnghaille and YouTube)

3. Bundle to save with Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects

  • If your community is looking for an efficient and cost-effective way to create connected bike facility networks, this guidebook can help as it provides tips on how to integrate on-road bicycle facilities as part of a routine roadway resurfacing process.
Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects (Image Credit: FHA)Incorporating On-Road Bicycle Networks into Resurfacing Projects (Image Credit: FHA)

4. Don’t think your town is too small to get involved

  • Providing transportation options is often difficult in areas outside of large metropolitan areas.
  • To remedy this, FHWA has published Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks, a guidebook that can help these areas support and provide safe, comfortable, and active travel for people of all ages and abilities.

5. Be flexible

  • The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 includes new provisions encouraging design flexibility.
  • To that end, FHWA has issued guidance titled “Controlling Criteria for Design: A Final Notice” as part of an effort to encourage agencies to work together with stakeholders to develop context-sensitive solutions that enhance communities and provide multiple transportation options to connect people to work, school and other critical destinations.

6. Look at your crossings

  • The majority of pedestrian deaths occur at uncontrolled crossing locations such as mid-block or intersections without signals.
  • To reduce these fatalities, for the next two years FHWA is promoting the use of pedestrian refuge islands, raised crosswalks and other pedestrian safety countermeasures through Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian, one of 11 innovations selected for the fourth round of the agency’s Every Day Counts innovation partnership with state DOTs and other stakeholders.

(Powerful video, ‘Kill the Excuses, it’s No Accident’. Courtesy of DOERoadSafety1 and YouTube)

7. Get on the road diet

  • One of the most cost-effective safety features a community can employ is a road diet, which is another Every Day Counts innovation supported by FHWA.
  • A typical road diet takes a segment of four-lane undivided roadway and reconfigures it into three lanes with two through lanes and a center two-way left turn lane.
  • Often, a road diet creates space for bicycle lanes.
  • The newly configured stretch improves safety by including a protected left-turn lane for motorists, reducing crossing distance for pedestrians and lowering travel speeds with very little increase in travel times. Road diets also are inexpensive.
  • Sometimes they can be undertaken and finished with not much more than a few gallons of paint for new lane markings.
  • In Reston, Va., the Virginia Department of Transportation implemented a road diet on a two-mile segment of Lawyers Road during an already scheduled 2009 repaving project.
  • Reaction among residents was mixed before the project, but views shifted to strong support after the project helped reduce crashes in the corridor by 67 percent.
  • A second road diet was installed on nearby Soapstone Drive in 2011, and that diet resulted in a 65 percent crash reduction.
  • To learn more about how road diets work, check out the video below.