As bicycling and walking become increasingly popular forms of transportation, having a safe way for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate roads is incredibly important. Walking and biking are great ways to improve mental and physical health for you and your loved ones. Bike lanes and sidewalk additions are popping up all over America, and cities in Arizona are making changes to promote alternative forms of travel and transportation safety.
The City of Phoenix has a 30 year plan to increase transportation options. The city will invest over $300 million to improve bike lanes and sidewalks. Phoenix already has 778 miles of bike lanes, and by 2022, the city plans to add 176 more miles of lanes. Phoenix is also planning to add 135 miles of sidewalk.
These additions aim to improve the walkability and bike-ability of the city. Phoenix is a car-dependent city, and this car-dependency hurts the environment and makes it more difficult for people to live active lifestyles.
The additional sidewalks and bike lanes will make the roadways safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. Bike lanes are beneficial because they encourage active and healthy lifestyles, enhance the local economy, and reduce our carbon footprint. Bike lanes also make sidewalks safer for pedestrians, create fewer crashes, and calm traffic.
Pedestrian safety is especially important in Arizona because pedestrians here are twice as likely to die in a fatal crash than in 30 other states. According to a 2016 study issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Arizona ranks third in the nation for pedestrian deaths. In 2016, nearly 200 pedestrians were killed and 1,448 were injured in 1,637 crashes. Additional sidewalks and bike lanes can decrease the amount of crashes.
Not all bike lanes are created equal. While regular bike lanes are a great start, protected bike lanes are even better for cyclists and pedestrians. Protected bike lanes add an extra buffer between cars and pedestrians. They also provide better visibility of pedestrians and bikers to drivers.
A regular bike lane consists of lines that block off a section of the street specifically for cyclists. A protected bike lane has the same lines as a regular lane, but there is a barrier between the bike lane and the rest of the road. This barrier can be parked cars, posts, planters, or other forms of protection.
One study reported 70% of people were interested in riding a bike more often, but they did not feel safe doing so. Implementing protected lanes could decrease that fear. A Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists case study found that cycling injuries decreased by 89% with protected bike lanes.
People for Bikes states that as of 2011, only 78 protected bike lines existed in America. Today, there are 420 protected bike lanes in 111 cities, and Phoenix only recently became one of the cities with these lanes. Phoenix’s first and only protected lane was added in October of this year.
Other cities in Arizona, however, have had protected lanes for a few years. Some are even among the best places for cyclists. Tempe, Tucson, and Scottsdale are three of the most bicycle safe and friendly places in America.
With updates and more safety precautions, families, children, and the elderly can feel safer using environmentally friendly modes of transportation. There are also many people who may not own a vehicle, and therefore rely on sidewalks, bike routes and public transportation to get around. While the changes may not be perfect, they are a great start to getting people happy and healthy.
To give your opinion on transportation in Phoenix, you can take the city’s transportation survey. Giving feedback lets the government know what residents want in their city. It helps official identify issues and can spark improvements. The survey closes March 31, 2018, but it’s never too early to give your input!
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