Let’s Save Some Lives

On Friday, I wrote that poorly designed streets often produce one of two results: accidents or constant monitoring. We’ve seen both lately along the Wasatch Front, unfortunately.

Luckily, however, there are well understood ways to fix the problem. According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail, there are actually quite a few possible solutions:

You can blame people for accidents. Or you can blame bad design.

That’s where, increasingly, planners trying to prevent pedestrian collisions are going. Rather than put the onus on pedestrians to stay out of the way of cars, planners and engineers are considering how to make streets and intersections safer.

“One of the best investments we make is in the design of the road,” says ICBC road-safety manager Sonny Senghera, as he reels off a list of improvements that the provincial insurance agency encourages and even contributes money to in B.C. cities.

A couple prepares to run through traffic. Clearly that’s a bad idea, but good street design de-incentivizes danger behavior and rewards safe choices.

The article goes on to explain things such as lights with built in timers, lower speed limits, more crosswalks and other things. There’s more information than I want to quote directly here, so click over for the whole article.

In light of the article, what’s baffling is that communities continue to tolerate — or worse, build — dangerous streets. Both the problems and the solutions are intuitive and in most cases simple. The question really boils down to whether or not people’s lives and an endless commitment of tax dollars are worth as much as a few minutes or seconds of commute time.

This woman, who appears to be heading to the Division of Workforce Services, just finished running across very busy Freedom Blvd with at least three children. Was that a good idea? Obviously not, but she had just arrived on the bus and using the nearest crosswalk would have added another 20 minutes to her trip. That’s an insupportable situation and the design of this street verges on criminal negligence.

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