By Jason Warner, GOPC Manager of Government Affairs
Roadways are more dangerous now than ever for pedestrians and cyclists. Between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 49,340 people while they were walking; that amounts to one person killed every hour and 46 minutes.[i] Locally, ODOT reports fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists increased 41% and 69% respectively, since 2010. The state can take action in preventing pedestrian deaths.
In Ohio, 131 pedestrians were killed after being struck by motorists in 2018, a decline from record high 144 deaths in 2017. Additionally, 22 bicyclists were killed in collisions, up from 18 deaths in 2017.
While we already have laws in place dealing with alcohol or drug impairment, and recent laws targeting distracted driving, pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to a variety of causes. Independent of the case-by-case conditions of each incedent, elements like vehicle speed, the type of vehicle being driven, and roadway design all contribute to likelihood of a pedestrian surviving a crash with a motorist.
53% of the fatalities occurred with pedestrians in travel lanes on public roadways, including 47 who were crossing the roadway and 17 who were walking in the roadway, either with or against traffic.[ii] An Active Transportation Policy, which accommodates pedestrian and cyclist traffic alongside vehicle travel, can greatly improve interactions between non-motorized and motorized traffic and increase roadway safety.
A statewide active transportation policy, otherwise known as Complete Streets, would facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services and would match appropriate context-sensitive design guidelines to rural, urban, and suburban roadways. Safe roads not only protect all roadway users, including drivers, but also save money by avoiding collision and injury costs. To date, 33 states currently have implemented an active transportation policy through agency policy or legislation. While 19 Ohio cities or multi-county metropolitan planning organizations (MPO’s) have adopted active transportation policies, policies and roadway design around the state are not uniform or consistent.
A uniform, statewide active transportation policy would go a long way towards reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries. A 2015 analysis of 37 active transportation projects across the country determined the projects avoided a total of $18.1 million in collision and injury costs in one year alone and reduced pedestrian risk by 28 percent.[iii]
Adoption of a statewide active transportation policy has been and remains a priority for GOPC. To learn more about these policies and the impact they could have on Ohio, be sure to review our policy platform and issues areas.
[i] Smart Growth America, Dangerous By Design 2019 Report
[ii] Ohio Department of Transportation, 2017 Ohio Pedestrian Fatality Report
[iii] Smart Growth America, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies
thumbnail photo: credit to Steven Lee Davis, Transportation for America https://www.flickr.com/photos/t4america/4076271085/in/album-72157622516593443/