11 Ways to Make Streets Safe for Walking

by Jay Walljasper, AARP Livable Communities

[B' Spokes: Just the headlines and some comments where noted.]

1. Reduce the number of car lanes on wide streets
[B' Spokes: I amazed of the number of roads with no dedicated left turns (or bi-directional center turn lanes) and since I started driving these roads they're just a slalom race course with just one lane weaving around people turning left and right. I'll assert that we can do this and traffic will flow smoother as well as fewer crashes.]

2. Reduce the width of car lanes
[B' Spokes: Studies have shown that 10'-11' laves are safer than the standard 12' lanes. The challenge before us to get DOTs to acknowledge that 10' lanes are fine and there is zero benefit in giving cars more lane width than that while taking away width from adjacent bike facilities.]

3. Reduce the length of crosswalks
[B' Spokes: This also has the benefit of eliminating high speed right turns by cars that pedestrians are expected to cross with limited visibility and often with a false green walk signal while cars have to look to their left to merge while ignoring pedestrians on the right. And they call that a safe design accommodating pedestrians?]

4. Make crosswalks more visible
[B' Spokes: Meanwhile SHA and other localities are content with near invisible crosswalks (just transverse lines that are too easily confused with how stop bars look.)]

5. Add medians or pedestrian islands in the middle of busy streets

6. Give walkers a head start at traffic lights
[B' Spokes: I can just hear DOT "You mean slow down traffic 2-3 seconds at every signal crossing" No, start pedestrian crossing 3 seconds earlier and you can end it 3 seconds earlier. ]

7. Ban right-turns-on-red
[B' Spokes: This was started as a way to save gas with absolutely no overall gas savings observed because getting to the next light sooner does not save gas, that is unless you travel in circles a lot. I will also assert that right-on-red prevents others down stream from utilizing the break in traffic. At all un-signalized intersections and driveways that are downstream others are delayed by what one person saved. I call this traffic diarrhea, I can't be the only one waiting to merge or cross two lanes of same direction traffic to be held up by essentially just one lane traffic that keeps just dribbling by with no clear break. Thanks right-on-red for your inconvenience.]

8. Install speed humps, roundabouts and other traffic-calming measures
[B' Spokes: I find it rather ironic because motorist can't control their need for speed impulses so government is expected to speed even more money on roads. But heaven forbid government sets automated enforcement and starts fining drivers for their disregard for traffic laws and others safety.]

9. Convert one-way streets to two-way
[B' Spokes: I have mixed feelings on this because I like biking on the left side of one way streets (yes that is legal in Maryland) and I can say without a doubt people know where the right side of their vehicle is a lot better than the left side. And those goes double for those that bought a huge black SUV for their safety and then go around intimidating other road user either on purpose or just because they have no idea where their car is on the road.]

10. Install red-light cameras and other safety tools
[B' Spokes: We live in a place where "Cars are not ATMs." is somehow a valid retort for automated enforcement. We have got a lot of education that needs to be done so safety is preferred over speed.]

11. Stricter enforcement of traffic laws
[B' Spokes: There is no doubt in my mind that how our roads are designed leave too much sympathy for "Of course while you're driving you had no choice but to kill that pedestrian or cyclists." Heck we have a hard time getting anyone in the state to put into writing "If a cyclists is in your way (they have a legal right to the road the same as drivers) you must slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass."]

You can read AARP thoughts on each item here:

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