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Can urban planning reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents?

Make no mistake, urban planning that accounts for pedestrian traffic is not just an aesthetic luxury. Although traffic fatalities have been on a downward trend, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that pedestrian fatalities rose in 2013.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is no stranger to this issue. In fact, he recently launched a new DOT initiative, called Safer People, Safer Streets. The goal is to help communities with pedestrian and bicycle safety initiatives. That may mean reconnecting urban communities, and/or creating new biking and pedestrian routes.

There are creative pedestrian planning options, of course, such as removing highways and placing them underground, leaving room on the ground level for new pedestrian promenades. In the famous example of the Embarcadero elevated highway in San Francisco, city officials replaced it with a six-land boulevard and new pedestrian walkways. The project not only made room for new housing, but also increased property values in surrounding neighborhoods by 300 percent.

Pursuant to Foxx’s DOT initiative, federal officials recently met with local urban planners and architects in Nashville. The city was one of four stops made by federal officials, gathering information on the ways that highways have cut through existing communities and potentially increased the danger of pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

Until urban planning catches up, individuals on foot or on bikes should be as proactive as possible toward their own safety. Of course, not even the most thorough preparations may be able to ward off an accident caused by a negligent or distracted driver. If you have been injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident, don’t delay in consulting with an attorney that focuses on personal injury law. You will need an aggressive advocate on your side who will work to protect your rights and seek the compensation you need and deserve.

Source: Car and Driver, “The Future of Neighborhoods: Removing Urban Freeways Gains Fresh Traction,” Pete Bigelow, Aug. 1, 2016