Did you know that more than 1.2 million people lose their lives in traffic accidents globally each year? Public roads are not just meant for drivers. City roads play an important role in the daily lives of citizens who use these roads to walk around, shop and meet others. This is why, it’s important to keep City Planners streets safe and it’s possible to keep them safe with better urban design.
It has been observed that the focus of most traffic initiatives is on changing the behavior of pedestrians and drivers within the city limits. NES Fircroft believes 2021 will be the year of the driverless car. However, it is also a fact that certain engineering improvements can make the city roads better to navigate for drivers. Here’s a list of some of the common engineering strategies that can be used by city planners for improving the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on the public roads.
- Optimum Traffic Speed
There is no denying that speed is a major factor in traffic accident related fatalities. The probability of vehicle accidents with pedestrians can be brought down by reducing the speed limit in areas with dense traffic. Several studies have confirmed that maintaining speed limits below the 25 to 31 MPH mark can significantly reduce risks for pedestrians on the roads. To take full advantage of lower speed limits, city planners should also establish low speed zones combined with various other strategies for calming the traffic.
Certain strategies can be used by city planners to encourage pedestrian traffic. Some of these strategies include creation of speed humps, curb extensions, low speed zones, road curves for reducing vehicle speeds and raised pedestrian crossings. Vehicle speeds can be substantially reduced by placing various speed calming equipment near crosswalks and intersections. This approach has the potential to bring down average vehicle speeds by more than 10 MPH and it will have a direct effect on the safety of people in those areas.
- Building Streets For Everyone
In the earlier days city planners focused on cars as cars were getting popular but the present day planners need to design city roads for cyclists as well as pedestrians. It is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on public roads for mixed usage. Building streets for everyone means that all kinds of users are able to use the public roads safely and efficiently. One of the best examples of using engineering tactics to design roads for pedestrian safety is creation of pedestrian islands. These islands allow people to safely cross busy streets.
Creation of pedestrian islands will help in keeping people safe while crossing roads as compared to forcing them through huge drives which makes them vulnerable. Such features allow pedestrians to remain safe when they cross the street. These features allow pedestrians to carefully evaluate oncoming traffic and cross the street only when it’s safe for them.
- Creating Spaces for Pedestrians
The modern-day city planners focus on encouraging pedestrian traffic in cities as it’s not only great for the environment but it also gives a huge boost to the local economy. It is easy for pedestrians to move from one shop to another [unlike vehicle drivers] without endangering other citizens or congesting the road.
In 2017, more than 6000 pedestrians lost their life on US public roads. It also tells us that more people are endangering their lives while traveling on city streets as the population of US continues to increase. One excellent way to encourage pedestrian traffic is sidewalks. In addition, city planners can also create pedestrian only streets along with street plazas. It will not only help in protecting pedestrians but it will also help in boosting local economy.
One great example of a city that focuses on pedestrian street space is New York City. A huge section of Times Square is now accessible only to cyclists and pedestrians. The city is now focusing on pedestrian first design and the results are encouraging as it has led to a 26% decline in pedestrian deaths and injuries as well as a 16% decline in speeding in pedestrian plazas.
- Creating Safe and Connected Cyclist Networks
One of the ways to reduce injury rates is to invest in dedicated infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists such as bike lanes and off-street trails. It has also been confirmed by several research studies. Such dedicated cycling networks provide a much more efficient and convenient way for cyclists to travel through the city. It also keeps them safe by separating them for vehicles and helps in reducing the number of fatalities or injuries.
City planners need to focus on building complete streets which means that they should start designing transportation systems around drivers, cyclists as well as pedestrians. Some of the ways engineers can get more people to cycle throughout the city is by creating specific bike lanes, off-street trails as well as bike boulevards and protected bike lanes. It will not only help in reducing traffic congestion but will also help in improving the culture throughout the city. In fact, it has the potential to benefit the entire community.
- Analyzing Data for Detecting Problem Areas
Big data is everywhere and it’s growing. It also provides a lot more tools to city planners. These tools can be used by planners for identifying areas that pose the greatest risk to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The information derived from integrated infrastructure and reported incidents can be used by City Lawmakers for creating a detailed map highlighting the traffic crash data.
This data can then be used by city engineers, over a period of time, to build a detailed map allowing them to allocate the necessary resources, time, and money to areas that have the most problems. Such an approach will help in alleviating the safety concerns of citizens and that should make them happy.
Some of the biggest metropolitan areas globally have started making use of a variety of analytical models to better understand the crash data over longer periods of time. Analysis of traffic crash data over a long time allows city officials to pinpoint issues relating to pedestrian and cyclist deaths and they can then use this information to make the streets safer for everyone.