Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Arkansas' Roads: Dangerous By Design. We Can Do Better.

Bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in Arkansas and the United States as a whole.  We can and must do better.  Better street design, wider sidewalk, more protected bike lanes or separate trails, and lower speed limits in areas with heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic would help immensely. 

The following information was taken largely from Smart Growth America's Dangerous by Design report.  It has detailed information on pedestrian fatalities nationwide and provides policy recommendations for addressing this horrible problem.  Please read on or visit their pages to learn more about the issue and what you can do to help.

Smart Growth America - Dangerous by Design: Arkansas Report
Smart Growth America - Dangerous by Design: Fatalities Map
League of American Bicyclists Report via Bicycling.com

Here are some key quotes from the report:

"Between 2003 and 2012, 403 people were killed while walking in Arkansas, representing 6.5% of the 6,181 traffic-related fatalities in the state during this period."  (nearly 10% for the Little Rock MSA)
"Arkansas’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 79.98, which places it 14th nationally."
"40.6% of these people were killed on arterial roads, which are eligible to receive federal funding for construction or improvement, with federal design guidance or oversight."
"Over that decade, 73.4% of pedestrian deaths occurred on roadways with a speed limit of 40 mph or higher. 3.3% were on streets with a posted speed limit under 30 mph and just 0.8% of pedestrians died on streets with a speed limit of 20 mph or lower."
Speed limits have a major impact on fatality rates in bike accidents as well and Americans are 3-5 times more likely to die while biking than their Western European counterparts.  This is largely due to speed limits on roads that bikes share with cars and with the lack of protected/separate bike lanes in the United States.
Here are screenshots of the fatalities map for Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas:

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