How can local governments make their streets safer for people walking and bicycling?

It’s an urgent question, given that the number of collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists has risen sharply from 1,778 in 2006 to 2,900 in 2015, a 63% increase.

And now, a new regional plan provides detailed, data-driven answers. It’s called Safe Streets for Walking & Bicycling.

Here’s what Byron Rushing, Bicycling & Walking Program Manager at the Atlanta Regional Commission, had to say about the plan in a recent news release:

“This plan details concrete steps that local governments can take to make streets safer for the growing number of people who are walking and bicycling in our region. It’s a new way of thinking about bike-ped safety that, over time, has the potential to save many lives each year.”

Affordable, Data-Driven Solutions

The good news: transportation experts point to a range of safety measures that have been proven effective in reducing injuries and deaths.

The goal, Rushing says, is to encourage local governments to include safety enhancements in their transportation projects, especially those that they submit to each year for regional funding assistance.

And more good news: These improvements can be made at relatively low cost, especially when compared to the cost of building or expanding a road. For example, a pedestrian island costs about $15,000 on average, and a 100-foot long sidewalk costs about $1,000.

Scroll through the following slide show for a look at some of the safety measures experts say can make a real difference.

Where do bike-ped crashes occur?

The Safe Streets for Walking & Bicycling plan identified the conditions that most often lead to collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists, to help local governments prioritize their investments. The report found:

  • Well over half of bike-ped crashes occur on streets with speed limits at or above 35 mph.
  • Streets with four lanes or more have a significantly higher number of crashes per mile.
  • Crashes after dark are much more likely to result in severe outcomes, especially for pedestrians in areas with no street lighting.
  • Missing or inadequate crosswalks and sidewalks leave pedestrians vulnerable to being hit.

For more information: Walk. Bike. Thrive! — Atlanta Regional Commission’s long-range regional bike-ped plan

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.