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Crosswalk [PHOTO: Renee Stetzer]
Posted by: board member Renee Stetzer, pedestrian safety advocate and blogger at

In January, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled the Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative external link. The goal is to address “non-motorized safety issues and help communities create safer, better connected bicycling and walking networks.” He called it the most comprehensive and forward-thinking initiative the DOT has ever put together on bike and pedestrian issues. It aims to engage transportation specialists, safety experts, leadership and the public to make streets safer for a variety of transportation options. And it recognizes the vital role biking and walking play in a reliable multimodal transportation network…

Foxx’s call to action as part of the initiative is the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets external link, which urges mayors and elected officials to make their streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mayors in the challenge commit to seven activities external link:

  • Take a Complete Streets approach;
  • Identify and address barriers to make streets safe and convenient for all road users;
  • Gather and track biking and walking data;
  • Use designs that are appropriate to the context of the street and its uses;
  • Capture opportunities to build on-road bike networks during routine resurfacing;
  • Improve walking and biking safety laws and regulations; and
  • Educate and enforce proper road use behavior by all.

More accurate data on bike and pedestrian activity is an important part of the initiative (the third bullet in the list). That is no easy task, but the Federal Highway Administration’s new Bicycle-Pedestrian Count Technology Pilot Program is providing grants to 10 metropolitan areas to provide that data. Rochester and the Genesee Transportation Council external link applied for the grant. We did not make the final list. But our good neighbor, Buffalo external link, is one of the lucky cities who did.

As of mid-April, 209 cities had signed on to take the year-long challenge. Mayors from Birmingham, AL external link (an area ranked the sixth most dangerous for pedestrians external link) to Tuscon, AZ external link and Fort Myers, FL external link are among that list. Rochester is currently not one of them. But I have hope that it and the surrounding towns and villages will continue to strive to make streets that are safe for all who use them.

Click here external link to learn more about the DOT’s Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets.

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