Supporters spoke out for safer streets, and USDOT listened

Thanks to the action of supporters like you, all Americans will be safer on our streets. Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation released a much-improved ruling for how states and metro areas should measure — and be held accountable for improving — the safety of streets for everyone that uses them.

Back in 2014, 1,500 Smart Growth AmericaNational Complete Streets Coalition, and Transportation for America supporters sent a letter calling for the U.S. Department of Transportation to make the safety of all roadway users a top priority, and your voice has clearly been heard. Yesterday USDOT released its final safety rule for a new system of measuring the performance of our transportation investments that includes new and improved language to hold states and metro areas accountable for reducing preventable pedestrian deaths and injuries.

Under the last federal transportation law (MAP-21), USDOT was required to create a new system to govern how federal dollars are spent by measuring the performance of those dollars against tangible goals and outcomes. The first proposed measure dealt entirely with safety guidelines that would hold states and metro areas accountable for tracking their progress in reducing traffic collisions. But the proposal USDOT initially came up with was too weak to be effective.

USDOT-selfieThat’s where supporters like you came in. Over 1,500 people mobilized to tell USDOT to make that measure stronger, and to hold states and metro areas accountable for the safety of everyone on the road — no matter how they’re choosing to get around. Smart Growth America’s President and CEO Geoff Anderson personally hand-delivered those letters to USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx—all 1,500 of them.

Yesterday’s final ruling is leaps and bounds ahead of what was originally proposed. Some of the highlights include:

  • Five measures in total, and they include people on foot or bike: rate of serious injuries; rate of fatalities; total serious injuries; total fatalities; and the number of combined non-motorized fatalities and serious injuries.
  • States and MPOs must set targets for reducing fatalities for people on foot or bike. It’s treated as an equal measure to the others.
  • States and MPOs must make progress on four of the five measures.
  • Significant progress will be measured by beating targets. If that doesn’t occur, states must at least beat their baselines for each measure.
  • USDOT will not wait to finish developing the rest of the performance measures before they begin rolling out this safety measure.

Thank you to everyone who took action on this important issue. You spoke out, USDOT listened, and streets across the country will be safer as a result. 

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    2 Responses to Supporters spoke out for safer streets, and USDOT listened

    1. Why aren’t protected bikeways prioritized over street storage of cars?

    2. Mike Lasche says:

      I cannot believe that the Complete Streets Coalition is so wrong on the issue of the new FHWA crash measuring policy. The latest announced performance measures from FHWA combine bicycle and pedestrian crash statistics into one category. This is a disaster for bicycle and pedestrian policy. First, historically, these categories have been separate. Thus, people can compare current statistics with past statistics. If the categories are combined, the latest statistics will offer no reasonable comparison with past ones. Second, there is no logical reason to combine the crash statistics of these two modes. The modes have different types of crashes, with different causalities. The resultant statistics will be useless in terms of policy making and countermeasures. Third, with the mode’s crash statistics previously separated, all one had to do was to add the two together to get a combined measure. But, the combined measure will not allow one to know the crash statistics of either. The latest policy gives us less information, not more. Fourth, states follow the lead of FHWA in reporting crash statistics, in order to conform to grant procedures. So, all these disadvantages will play out on the state level. As one example, the Florida DOT is no longer reporting its annual Highway Safety Matrix with categories for bicycle and pedestrian crashes. This was a valuable tool for policy makers and advocates, to appraise the safety situation and to develop countermeasures. Now, this valuable is lost. I urge the Complete Streets Coalition to quit simply parroting FHWA and stand up for responsible safety resorting by joining the effort to get FHWA to keep reporting the crash statistics for these modes separately and to require states to do so as well.

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