(ATLANTA — Aug 22, 2018)
The Atlanta Regional Commission Board today approved a regional plan designed to help local governments improve safety for people walking and bicycling.
The plan, Safe Streets for Walking & Bicycling, provides a range of strategies to reduce serious injuries and deaths. The issue has taken on greater urgency in recent years, as the number of collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists in the Atlanta region has risen sharply, from 1,778 in 2006 to 2,900 in 2015, a 63% increase.
“This plan details concrete steps that local governments can take to make streets safer for the growing number of people who are walking and bicycling in our region,” said Byron Rushing, Bicycling & Walking Program Manager at the Atlanta Regional Commission. “It’s a new way of thinking about bike-ped safety that, over time, has the potential to save many lives each year.”
The goal, Rushing said, is to encourage local governments to include bike-ped safety enhancements in every transportation project, especially those that they submit to ARC each year for regional funding assistance, and to help ARC prioritize the list of projects that receive federal dollars.
The plan also detailed a number of safety measures that local governments can take that have been proven to reduce injuries and deaths. These include:
- Installing medians and pedestrian crossings
- Enhancing crosswalk visibility
- Building and improving sidewalks
- Building separated bike lanes
- Changing speed limits
- Reducing number of lanes
- Improving and installing street lighting
- Installing traffic calming measures
National studies have shown that a number of factors are contributing to the rise in pedestrian and bicyclist crashes, including increased numbers of people walking and bicycling, distracted driving, and larger vehicle sizes. National research has routinely found that decreasing vehicle speeds, providing frequent and safe opportunities to cross the street, and providing separated bikeways helps reduce the number and severity of collisions.
The ARC report evaluated collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists in metro Atlanta to identify the highest risk factors and help local governments prioritize their investments. The report found:
- Well over half of bike-ped crashes occur on streets with speed limits at or above 35 mph.
- Streets with four lanes or more have a significantly higher number of crashes per mile.
- Crashes after dark are much more likely to result in severe outcomes, especially for pedestrians in areas with no street lighting.
- Missing or inadequate crosswalks and sidewalks leave pedestrians vulnerable to being hit.
The safety plan is part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s long-range regional bike-ped plan, Walk. Bike. Thrive!, which aims to increase walking and bicycling as transportation options the Atlanta region.
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 73 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.
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