Saturday, March 22, 2014

How Better Design
Could Save Pedestrians' Lives

In the wake of public outcry over a spate of pedestrian deaths earlier this year, New York City officials announced that they would adopt a "Vision Zero" policy. Modeled after a Swedish concept introduced in the late '90s, it sets a goal of absolutely no traffic fatalities in the country. Sweden has reduced its road deaths by half since 2000, becoming one of the safest places in the world when it comes to traffic deaths. A total of 264 people died in traffic in the country last year. By contrast, 176 pedestrians were killed in traffic in New York City alone last year.
Mayor Bill DeBlasio outlined his proposals for achieving Vision Zero in mid-February. They include lowering the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph and stepping up enforcement for moving violations like failing to yield. Controversially, although DeBlasio has insisted it's not part of citywide plans, police have ramped up their efforts to rein in jaywalkers: according to theNew York Times, the department issued 215 jaywalking tickets in the first month and a half of 2014, compared with 27 issued in the same period last year.
Roads in Sweden are built with safety prioritised over speed or convenience. Low urban speed-limits, pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic have helped. Building 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) of '2+1' roads--where each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking--is reckoned to have saved around 145 lives over the first decade of Vision Zero. And 12,600 safer crossings, including pedestrian bridges and zebra-stripes flanked by flashing lights and protected with speed-bumps, are estimated to have halved the number of pedestrian deaths over the past five years.
How Better Design Could Save Pedestrians' Lives | Co.Design | business design

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