FEDERAL 402 and 405 FUNDS FOR IMPROVING CYCLIST AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its new rules for how two federal funding streams—the 402 and 405 grants—can help address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues at http://1.usa.gov/1Q3S2mF. This guidance incorporates changes from the FAST Act. Between $2 and $25 million in Section 402 money, called the State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program, is available to every state to improve a range of safety issues, including bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Section 405 funds, called the National Priority Safety Programs, are Congressional set asides for states with safety issues that need special attention. The FAST Act added bicycle and pedestrian safety as one of those priorities; there is approximately $14 million available to split among states where more than 15 percent of traffic fatalities involve bicyclists and pedestrians. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership offers a primer for working with these programs; see http://bit.ly/239q0Zb .

WHO RELIES ON US PUBLIC TRANSIT?

More than a fifth of U.S. city-dwellers use public transit on a regular basis, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in late 2015. Pew looked at which U.S. adults use public transportation most frequently and where they live. The Greater New York City area tops the list. The city hosting the next largest amount of transit users is Los Angeles. Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia do make the top 10 list. Even though 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, roughly 45 percent of households still have zero transit access, according to the survey.

By highlighting who relies on public transit the most, Pew also reveals which commuters are likely the most impacted by the country’s aging infrastructure. A 2013 Federal Transit Administration report estimated that “more than 40% of buses and 25% of rail transit around the U.S. are in marginal or poor condition.” Since immigrants and lower-income workers rely on transit in greater numbers to get to work, poor transit conditions can hold these groups back economically.

ELIMINATING TRAFFIC FATALITIES AND SEVERE INJURIES THROUGH VISION ZERO

At least 17 American cities have committed to Vision Zero to eliminate traffic fatalities. In addition to ramping up education and enforcement, these efforts require road designers to rethink streets and intersections in ways that minimize risks to non-motorized users. This often means correcting issues resulting from a strict, decades-long focus on vehicle movement.

The language of Vision Zero itself—with the goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries—communicates a more ambitious approach to street safety and rests on the basic understanding that these serious losses are preventable.

“If 30,000 people were killed each year in the US by a curable illness, we would call it a public health crisis,” wrote Arielle Fleisher in The Central Role of Public Health in Vision Zero, a case study exploring how cities are using public health tools to advance their Vision Zero efforts. (See http://bit.ly/25X0WJQ). “We would deploy resources, vaccines and interventions to address the spread and bring the death toll to the only acceptable level: zero. Yet, every year 30,000+ people are killed in preventable traffic collisions in this country. Vision Zero asks us to see those traffic deaths like polio or cholera: epidemics that, with an urgent health framing and public response, can be eradicated.”

Cross-departmental collaboration is a critical foundation to a successful Vision Zero commitment. In its “Collaborating Across Departments to Achieve Vision Zero” case study, the Vision Zero Network examines some of the specific ways Vision Zero cities San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York City are restructuring their collaboration in long-lasting ways to take meaningful action for safe streets. See: http://bit.ly/1OoqBU3

Also, ”Communications Strategies to Advance Vision Zero” looks at early-adopter cities New York City and San Francisco’s approaches to communicating about Vision Zero to garner attention and influence behavior at all levels of society. See: http://bit.ly/1rp98Q9

Finally, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has launched its Vision Zero Initiative that will initially focus on large and medium-size cities. They are establishing a task force to enhance its relationships with other entities working toward Vision Zero goals, and will develop a Vision Zero Toolbox of urban-focused resources and best practices for traffic engineers to help implement next generation road designs for modern, multi-modal cities. See: http://bit.ly/29YE4TD

These and other resources are available at the Resource Library of the Vision Zero Network. The library contains
sample Vision Zero resolutions, action plans, case studies, communications campaigns and more from cities in the U.S. and around the world. Visit: http://bit.ly/2aapKbZ

FHWA PROPOSES PERFORMANCE MEASURES

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released a proposed rulemaking outlining new national performance measures to assess travel reliability, congestion, and emissions: the National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Freight Movement on the Interstate System, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.  It calls for an increased level of consistency, transparency and accountability in establishing and achieving targets for performance impacting congestion, system reliability, freight movement and economic vitality, and environmental sustainability. State DOTs will be expected to use the information and data generated as a result of the new regulations to make better informed transportation planning and programming decisions. The new performance aspects of the Federal-aid program would allow FHWA to better communicate a national performance story and more reliably assess the impacts of Federal funding investments.

NHTSA REPORT: THE EFFECT OF ELECTRONIC DEVICE USE ON PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

Effect of Electronic Device Use on Pedestrian Safety: A Literature Review is a downloadable report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It examines pedestrian distraction, driver distraction, and pedestrian-vehicle interaction due to the use of electronic devices. A very limited number of studies have investigated the effect of electronic device used by pedestrians and drivers on pedestrian safety.