U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces Major New Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative

Matthew ColvinAdvocates for bicycle and pedestrian safety are celebrating a significant victory this week, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx announcing a number of new safety initiatives to be undertaken at the USDOT. Secretary Foxx premiered his plan at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh, to an enthusiastic crowd of 1000-or-so professionals working in engineering, advocacy, policy, and planning.  And the announcement couldn’t be better timed, with injuries and deaths for bicyclists and pedestrians on the rise across the nation, but a meager 0.4 percent of federal funding being invested in non-motorized safety by states.

The 18-month initiative will be focused on infrastructure safety and design improvements, behavior safety and education, better data collection, and vehicle safety measures. Specifically, the USDOT will: 

  • Lead walking and bicycling assessments in each state, bringing together stakeholders, identifying gaps – areas with a high risk of crashes due to inadequate sidewalks or other safe infrastructure – and finding ways to fix them. The effort, led by Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) field offices will survey bicycle and pedestrian routes to identify where gaps exist, and to better understand why those gaps exist. 
  • The USDOT will then develop resources to assist states in addressing infrastructure gaps and unsafe conditions.  While the full details of the toolset have not been announced, Secretary Foxx previewed a new “road diet” guide as one tool states can look forward to.  Calling road diets, “one of the greatest successes in new road designs,” the Secretary added, “I believe this could be the beginning of what we could hope is a new, safer road for all travelers.” The USDOT has also launched a bicycle and pedestrian safety action team that, in coordination with researchers and practitioners, will reexamine policies and practices that have created obstacles for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • The department will also engage in new outreach to safety organizations, local officials, and advocates to develop new resources for law enforcement and safety organizations. 

This is a positive step forward for federal transportation policies to raise the bar on bicycling and pedestrian safety.  We applaud with Secretary Foxx’s leadership on this issue, and look forward to seeing the program develop in the coming months. 

For more information, read the USDOT’s official press release here: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOT/bulletins/ceb80a