Pedestrian deaths have decreased significantly in Florida since the state implemented a law mandating roadway design that accommodates walkers and cyclists from the beginning, according to a new study. Plenty of add-ons or fixes to existing roadways have been tried to reduce the dangers to pedestrians and cyclists, but so-called Complete Streets policies – laws requiring that the needs of non-vehicle users be incorporated when designing roadways – are less common, the study team writes in American Journal of Public Health. Pedestrian fatalities have increased from 11 percent to 15 percent of all traffic deaths in the U.S. in the past decade, according to the Department of Transportation. In particular, the Sun Belt – the span of states across the South and West regions – has some of the most dangerous streets for people on foot or bike, the study authors note.
Safety advocates warn of higher death rates, but people covet quicker trips.
In Philly, car commuters are one of many players vying for precious space on our street grid, as Philadelphia magazine editor Tom McGrath recently explored. Today, cars must compete with buses, cabs, ride-sharers, delivery trucks, trash trucks, food trucks, construction vehicles, construction sites, double-parkers, trolleys, pedestrians, the occasional skateboarder, and yes, bikers. It’s the beauty (and the curse) of the city — a “chaotic ballet,” in the words of the Center City District, which issued an ominous report on traffic congestion in a rapidly developing Philly in late February.
In November of last year, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 251 which would grant municipal police access to radar. It passed with a vote of 46 in favor and three opposed. All three of the nay voters were asked why they voted against the bill, but only Senator Lisa Boscola, a Democrat from Lehigh County responded. The response came from her chief of staff, John Kelly. Kelly said his boss feels VASCAR and other current methods of speed enforcement are sufficient. Boscola is also concerned that radar in the hands of municipal police would encourage the establishment of speed traps as a way to bolster revenue within municipalities.
Fourteen states require a conviction for forfeiture. In Alabama, state Sen. Arthur Orr and Rep. Arnold Mooney, both Republicans, proposed legislation this year to require a conviction before assets could be seized. The bills ignited three weeks of debate and received so much pushback from police and prosecutors that they were shelved. On Thursday, Mooney introduced a new bill that requires law enforcement to gather detailed data on seized assets starting in 2019 and publish an annual report online beginning 2020. However, it wouldn’t change the current legal process.