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D.C. Has Relatively Safe Streets, But Still Needs Improvements, Report Finds

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A new report concludes that D.C. has some of the safest roads in the nation, but bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are still rising.
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A new report concludes that D.C. has some of the safest roads in the nation, but bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are still rising.

With this week's launch of the Street Smart campaign shedding light on the importance of pedestrian and bicycling safety in our region, a new report says Washington has some of the safest streets in the country.

D.C. has the third lowest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation, compared to other large cities: Three fatalities per 10,000 walkers.

That is still too many, says Jeffrey Miller, the head of the Alliance for Biking and Walking. "I doubt there is a single one of the families of any of these pedestrians who have been killed who would say, 'We're doing great,'" he says.

The Alliance's report found more people are walking and biking to work, but as the percentage of fatalities involving motorists is dropping, the percentage for bicyclists and pedestrians is ticking up. In Washington, about 45 percent of all road deaths are pedestrians.

"Everyone should be able to get from where they are to where they're going without at being at risk of death," Miller says. "There are certainly things we can and should be doing as cities and states to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety."

Miller says many cities, including Washington, have Complete Streets policies, which places pedestrians and bicyclists on equal footing with motorized vehicles when roads are designed. He says that's especially important when you consider how many people who do not own cars are moving into D.C

"We need to look at the most efficient ways to help people move. So Metro and our bus system are fantastic tools. Bicycling and walking are also part of that, where we can move people very efficiently with a limited amount of space," Miller says.

Making the right changes is not only a matter of focus. Money is also an issue. The report says even though 11 percent of all trips are taken by bicycle or foot, only 2 percent of all federal transportation funding goes to bicycling and walking projects.

Bicycling and Walking in the United States, 2014 Benchmarking Report

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