U.S. Congress looking at “complete streets” in effort to reduce pedestrian and bicycle accidents

The U.S. Congress is considering federal legislation aimed at making roads and highways safer for people on bicyclists and pedestrians. The House is considering H.R. 1780 the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, and the U.S. Senate is considering Senate Bill 1056 led by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

The Washington State Legislature also has two bills pending which would amend the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) to ease design standards giving cities and municipalities more leeway in road design projects following “Complete Streets” principles: HB 1700 and HB 1701.

Between the years 2000 and 2009, 47,000 Americas were killed in pedestrian accidents and another 688,000 pedestrian were injured. The startling fact is that an American is injured or killed in a pedestrian accident every seven minutes.

Over the past decade, there has been a significant – nearly 27% — reduction in motor vehicle accident deaths. Safety initiatives including improved vehicle design, child safety seats, seat belt laws, DUI education and enforcement, discouragement of distracted driving are some of the factors in the reduction of fatalities.

While there has been a reduction of pedestrian accident fatalities in the past 20 years, they have fallen at half the rate of motor vehicle fatalities and in some metropolitan areas, pedestrian accident fatalities have actually increased. In 2009 there were 4,092 pedestrian accident deaths.

Transportation for America is spearheading The Complete Streets campaign and is urging Congress to change their Transportation policy. Joined by a coalition of business, environmental, public health, housing and other organizations, Transportation for America with their Complete Streets campaign seeks to make roads safer for pedestrians and bikers.

In a study, Dangers by Design, it was revealed that current roadway designs are not only dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclers but it also discourages people from walking and biking.

The Complete Streets Act seeks to:

ensure the safety of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities, as they travel on and across federally funded streets and highways.

Complete Streets are those designed not only with cars in mind. A “Complete Street” includes sidewalks, bike lanes or shoulders which accommodate bicyclists, bus lanes with accessible and safe public transportation stops, frequent safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, roundabout and curb extensions.

A Complete Street may go a long way to keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe.

This information is provided by Seattle Car Accident Lawyer blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in bicycle and pedestrian accidents due to the negligence of another. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.

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Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.