New St. Louis Pedestrian Safety Plan notes progress but lacks comprehensive strategy
Without a doubt we can make St. Louis one of the best regions for walking and biking in the country IF traffic safety is significantly improved. That’s why Trailnet—a frequent partner with the City of St. Louis—will also continue to push the City and other governments to do more to make our streets safer, particularly for those who walk and bike.
Last year, according to Missouri STARS reports, 21 people were hit and killed by vehicles while walking in St. Louis—more than five times the national average. An additional 134 people walking were seriously injured. Among those biking, one person was killed and 47 were seriously injured. The public should not be lulled into accepting these traffic fatalities and disabling injuries as an inevitable byproduct of transportation. Crashes are preventable.
A positive step in the right direction came last October, when Jamie Wilson, the first Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of St. Louis, started work.
Recently, Wilson produced a four-page document titled, “City of St. Louis Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (2015/16),” which was posted without fanfare on the City’s website at the end of April. The PSAP conveys some of Wilson’s progress to date and looks ahead to work anticipated through 2016, but it is not a comprehensive strategy with clear targets for reducing crash injuries and deaths. Read on for our thoughts—pro and con—on the plan contents.
The Positive Actions in Progress
- Engineered improvements for pedestrian safety in high priority corridors and intersections are being implemented.
- A crash database has been created for identifying hot spot areas needing to be addressed.
- Policies and practices for planning and designing the City transportation network are being enhanced.
- New communications outlets have been implemented for the public’s walking and biking concerns to be addressed.
- New transportation improvements have been recommended in all twenty-eight wards.
- A “Stop for Pedestrians” ordinance is being developed with the Board of Aldermen.
Potential Actions in the Future
- Development of a Bicycle Safety Action Plan.
- Development of a City-Wide Safety Education Campaign, contingent on grant funding, that will include education and enforcement for street safety, with focused efforts in high crash neighborhoods.
- Development of school-based education, contingent on grant funding, on traffic safety best practices.
- Frequent media communications about bike/ped safety updates.
- A problem statement.
- Clarity as to how this plan relates to others, specifically the more detailed 2013 St. Louis PSAP, which was never officially adopted by the City.
- Comprehensive strategies, including enforcement, which identify detailed actions, timelines, responsible parties, and performance measures.
- A sense of what guides the City beyond this calendar year when this 2015/16 PSAP expires.
Five months ago Trailnet asked the Mayor’s office to join 17 other US cities that are now using the growing best practice of Vision Zero. There’s evidence it’s working:
- Pedestrian deaths are lowest on record
- A closer look at 2014’s traffic death statistics
- US traffic casualties
However, the Mayor’s office declined our recommendation because the City lacks funds for implementation. We said the city must have an action plan. The Mayor’s Office agreed, and this is what the City has now produced. It’s a step in the right direction, but ultimately not comprehensive enough.
Next Steps for Trailnet
Trailnet will keep pushing the City, and working with the City, to make our streets safer for all users. The new plan mentions several actions the City will take in the next six months. We will hold the City accountable to this timeline and work with them in whatever way possible to make sure this progress is made and reported.