November 10, 2009

Groups Push For Safer Streets To Walk And Bike

American pressure groups came together on Monday to push authorities to invest more money in health and reducing greenhouse emissions.

However, it is not health care reform or cap-and-trade that they are seeking. They are calling on the state and local authorities to dole out some extra money to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, reported AFP.

The groups believe that if towns and cities were designed to be more accommodating for walking and bike riding, such measures could ultimately promote more healthful lifestyles while cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, a report issued by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America said.

According to the report, there are not any states spending over five percent of federal transportation funds on projects like building more sidewalks or "zebra crossings", that could make the streets safer for pedestrian and cyclists.

AARP seniors' group and the American Public Health Association contributed to the report, which found that the 52 largest urban areas in the United States only spend $1.39 dollars of federal funding on each person for projects to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

This is a surprisingly low amount, considering the fact that nine percent of all trips in the United States are made on foot with 107 million Americans walking to work everyday.

The report also said that pedestrians are basically walking at their own risk in the U.S., where streets are "engineered for speeding cars and make little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on a bicycle."

Street accidents have taken the lives of more than 76,000 Americans while crossing the streets of their community on foot or bicycle, and pedestrians make up almost 12 percent of all traffic deaths in the U.S.

Forty percent of U.S. communities either don't have sidewalks or have inadequate ones, the report noted.

Unfortunately, less than 1.5 percent of funds authorized under a 2005 federal transportation law go toward projects to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, the report said, calling for government funding for walker and bicycle infrastructure to be upgraded to match the ratio of traffic fatalities, in terms of percentage.


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