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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-005    Date:  July/August 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-005
Issue No: Vol. 78 No. 1
Date: July/August 2014

 

Guest Editorial

Improving Safety and Mobility for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Photo. Headshot of Victor Mendez, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is committed to ensuring that the Nation’s transportation system works for everyone--whether they drive cars, take buses, ride bicycles, or walk to their destinations. That’s because transportation does more than just help people get around. It connects them to jobs, schools, and economic opportunities. But the best transportation system in the world isn’t worth much if it doesn’t move people safely.

That’s why USDOT puts safety first in everything it does. And, under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the Department is shining a light on some of the most overlooked roadway users: pedestrians and bicyclists.

Unfortunately, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities has increased in recent years. In 2012, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities rose 6 percent compared to 2011, and nonoccupants (individuals outside a motor vehicle) accounted for more than 16 percent of all roadway fatalities. To reverse these alarming trends, USDOT is working to make walking and bicycling safer for people of all ages and abilities.

Under the leadership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Department is providing funding, tools, and technical assistance to help cities and towns improve road safety for nonmotorized users. FHWA also is studying innovative facilities like cycle tracks, which provide exclusive road space for bicyclists. Also, USDOT is promoting countermeasures that can dramatically improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, including road reconfigurations (also known as “road diets”) and pedestrian hybrid beacons, which provide a pushbutton-activated warning device to stop traffic at midblock pedestrian crossings.

The transportation community is not stopping there. In an era of constrained resources, it’s critical to ensure that every dollar spent helps achieve the goals of a safer and more convenient transportation system. That’s why USDOT is committed to making sure that even routine activities, such as maintenance of pedestrian facilities, lead to safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

FHWA’s new Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety provides information to help State and local agencies maintain pedestrian facilities while boosting safety and mobility. Communities around the country are encouraged to take advantage of this valuable resource. For more on maintaining facilities for nonmotorized users, see “Clearing a Path for Pedestrians” on page 16 in this issue of Public Roads.

At the Department of Transportation, safety is, and will always be, the number one priority. Everyone here is committed to ensuring that the Nation has the resources and infrastructure needed for safe travel.

But, the Department can’t do it alone. Every road user has a role to play in improving roadway safety—whether it’s remembering to buckle up before driving, keeping the cell phone in the glove compartment away from temptation, taking care when crossing the street to catch a bus, or paying attention to speed limits. With your help, we can make walking and bicycling a safer part of every trip.

Victor M. Mendez
Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation

 

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