If you were to close your eyes and place a finger on any transportation-related document your city is producing, there’s a good chance you’d land on one word: Safety.
“The City recognizes the need to develop a safe, efficient, accessible and integrated multimodal transportation network that balances the need and desire for access, mobility, economic development and aesthetics while providing for the health and well-being for people of all ages and abilities.” -City of Rockford, Complete Streets Policy, Jan 2017
These excerpts are from recent resolutions and agreements that the Rockford City Council has adopted. All the right words are here: “multimodal”, “all ages and abilities”, “safe routes to school”, even “maximize carbon-free mobility”. All good.
Recently my interest has been in the alignment of this municipal value–safety–with the existing conditions of pedestrian mobility. I began with the following questions:
- How ‘safe’ are pedestrians;
- What areas are less safe than others for pedestrians; and
- How can we work together to maximize safety and accessibility for non-motorized users of our transportation network?
Every so often I would hear of pedestrians getting hit by drivers on certain roads. So I began to research our library’s newspaper archive. Turns out we’ve had a problem with pedestrian collisions for some time. The above example in particular is telling: Once a “comfortable country road”, Alpine Road has now sustained two pedestrian collisions in the last month…January 1974. Over forty years ago.
Eventually it was time to pair qualitative research with quantitative research. I began with the following hypothesis:
Pedestrian collisions occur more frequently on principal arterial roads in the City of Rockford.
So I obtained ten years of data from the Illinois Department of Transportation (2006-2015, to be exact). Merged together, here was my initial finding:
From 2006-2015, 551 pedestrians were hit by the driver of a vehicle in the City of Rockford.
More to come tomorrow.