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Dangerous By Design – 2011


Between 2000 and 2007, older adults age 65 and older accounted for nearly 22 percent of total pedestrian fatalities. With the upcoming age shift and the increase in older adults, street design approaches that accommodate the needs of all pedestrians must be implemented. Transportation for America produced this report to emphasize the need for pedestrian-safe streets by examining the number of pedestrian fatalities in America due to insufficient pedestrian infrastructure, as well as the economic and health-related benefits safe streets offer to communities and individuals.

Key Points

The report highlights the dangers traditional streets, engineered for fast-moving automobile traffic, pose on pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages. Additionally, it discusses the direct link between local street design and overall health of residents related to physical activity levels and pedestrian injuries. Recommended provisions for the next federal transportation spending bill that will enhance the walkability and accessibility of communities are addressed throughout the report.

Recommended provisions include the following:

  1. Retain federal funding for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Congress is currently in the process of eliminating dedicated funding from the two largest funding sources for bike and pedestrian safety features like sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike trails.
  2. Adopt a national complete streets policy. Ensure that federally funded transportation projects take into account all road users including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, as well as children and older adults in the area.
  3. Fill in the gaps. Create complete networks of sidewalks and bicycle paths that allow all residents to travel safely throughout the community.
  4. Commit a fair share for safety. Encourage states to spend a portion of Highway Safety funding on improving infrastructure for bicycling and walking.
  5. Hold states accountable for creating communities that are safe for walking. Ensure that new streets are built to be safe for all road users regardless of mode of transportation and that federal dollars spent result in more active communities and fewer pedestrian fatalities.

How to Use

Planners and local officials can use this report to gain an understanding of the impact street design has on the entire community, the importance of implementing pedestrian-safe streets to create livable communities, and how transportation funding can be used to improve pedestrian infrastructure, thus improving the quality of life for community residents of all ages.

View full report: Dangerous By Design – 2011 (PDF – 1.4 MB)

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