Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Dangerous is Driving?

See here for a paper on the topic by Todd Litman, of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. The blog publishing this piece (which had been widely circulating through email among urban planning circles for months), Walk Bike CT, is relatively new and has a number of other insightful articles on ped/bike policy issues around the State.


"Another little-recognized fact is that per capita traffic fatality rates are far lower in pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, smart growth communities than in conventional, automobile-dependent communities. Automobile oriented suburbs have about four times the traffic fatality rate as smart growth communities. This appears to reflect the combination of increased total driving, higher traffic speeds, and society's inability to withdraw driving privileges to high risk drivers in automobile-dependent communities."

"All of those families that move to automobile-dependent suburbs to provide a safe and healthy place to raise their children are mistaken: they have actually increased their children's chance of dying a violent death."

Also see this article in this month's New Urban News, covering a study showing that traffic-dependent areas have traffic fatality rates that are 225% higher than walkable areas.


The newer cities tend to have more “dendritic” networks — branching, tree-like organizations that include many cul-de-sacs, limiting the movement of traffic through residential areas. They also don’t have as many intersections. The pre-1950 cities, on the other hand, tend to be more grid-like, giving motorists many more routes to choose from.

For several decades, traffic specialists believed a tree-like hierarchy of streets was superior because it made residential neighborhoods quieter and presumably safer. But an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) study cited by the UConn researchers points out that more-connected street networks tend to reduce travel speeds. That’s important because even a small reduction in speed can boost safety — mainly by reducing the severity of the accidents.

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