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New report on cities' safe streets policies finds widespread adoption in response to rising pedestrian death rates

Posted July 30, 2020

people riding their bike down a street
A Complete Streets reconstruction project on Park Place widened the sidewalks and installed street trees for a more comfortable pedestrian environment. Traffic speeds were slowed down due to the on-street parking, so people biking could share the travel lane.

CityHealth released a new report showing that cities across the country, including Fort Worth, are adopting Complete Streets policies that allow residents to safely walk, bike, drive and take public transit around their cities. These laws lead to transportation networks that ensure all residents have safe, convenient ways of getting around and staying active.

Street safety has taken on new relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of Americans seek alternatives to public transit, and millions more look for opportunities to safely exercise outdoors.

The new report includes findings from CityHealth’s latest assessment of the 40 largest cities in the nation, in which Fort Worth and 28 other cities received gold medals for their Complete Streets policies.

“Adopting a Compete Streets policy was an important step in improving equity, safety and public health, but now the real work is occurring,” said District 9 Councilmember Ann Zadeh. “As we move forward, it is actually the implementation and delivery of the physical design that delivers streets with sidewalks, bike lanes, accommodation for transit and the stops that service transit, frequent and safe crossing opportunities – to name just a few – that improve the quality of life for all.”

Across the nation, cities are rapidly adopting these policies with new urgency to protect those who do not travel by car, including walkers, bikers and those who use micromobility options, like scooters. In the past decade, the number of pedestrians killed in the U.S. increased by 35%, and a sharp rise started to occur in 2009, according to the National Safety Council. More walking Americans were killed by car in 2016 and 2017 than any other year since 1990. While the total number of all other traffic deaths declined by 6%, pedestrian deaths represent a larger share of all traffic deaths, rising from 12% to 16% over the last decade.

The City of Fort Worth’s Complete Streets Policy, adopted in 2016, promotes a transparent process to achieve a network of transportation facilities that are routinely designed, constructed and operated for all roadway users. It is Fort Worth’s goal to provide a complete and connected, context-sensitive transportation system for all users that supports mobility, healthy living and economic benefit.

Fort Worth’s Complete Streets philosophy is a major element of the Master Thoroughfare Plan and Active Transportation Plan which guide the development of the city’s transportation network with appropriately-sized roads, and reflects the surrounding context of each transportation facility.

A Complete Streets Implementation Plan was finished in 2019 to assess the current application of the policy into design and implementation processes. The implementation recommendations in this plan are intended to provide process improvements for developer, capital and maintenance projects, and a better product for transportation users in Fort Worth.

CityHealth’s assessment of Complete Streets policies first looks at whether a city has a Complete Streets policy in place. If so, the assessment then includes whether the policy requires compliance, accommodates pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and public transit vehicles, as well as all ages and abilities, assigns a department to oversee implementation, and requires development of performance measures.

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