Thursday, January 15 2015 @ 04:11 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians and 726 bicyclists were killed in the United States, up 6 percent from the previous year. Rep. Rick Larsen, of Washington, has a sneaking suspicion that road design — specifically designs that make things safer for cars — are a big part of the problem.
To find out for sure, Larsen along with Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (of D.C.) and Peter DeFazio (of Oregon) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office in late December asking for an investigation into trends and causes of crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians and recommendations for improving safety.
The request centers on the question of whether or not road designs that make driving safer are putting bicyclists and pedestrians at greater risk — at a time when cities around the country are creating more bike lanes and promoting walkability.
Their letter says, “Roads are designed and built with wider, straighter lanes and have fewer objects near the edges, more turn lanes, and wider turning radii at intersections. While these practices improve driving safety, a suspected unintended consequence is that drivers travel faster when they feel safer. Greater speeds can increase the frequency and severity of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists who are moving at much slower speeds and have much less protection than a motorized vehicle affords.” (In an effort to stop pedestrian deaths, in November, NYC tackled the speed issue by reducing the city’s default to 25 mph.)