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Letter: City infrastructure plans must look beyond just pavement

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Originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Recently, Aldermanic President Megan Green, on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking, spoke on the need to address traffic safety during the upcoming aldermanic session. Trailnet, the regional nonprofit dedicated to safe streets for all, has several recommendations for Aldermen to consider.

First, the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds in Ordinance 71650 must include community engagement and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The city cannot pave and stripe its way to safety for all; protective infrastructure changes must be made.

The aforementioned can be done by enacting new Complete Streets legislation. The City’s current Complete Streets guidelines were recently scored 30 out of 100 by Smart Growth America. A more rigorous complete streets policy, strictly adhered to by city officials, would increase safety for people walking, biking and driving.

Trailnet supports Board Bill#105 on automated enforcement and Board Bill#106 concerning surveillance and the establishment of a Neighborhood Traffic Safety Fund. We are, however, concerned with Board Bill #185 regarding surveillance. We recommend the establishment of a committee, made up of an equal number of residents and city officials, to create policies and monitor the implementation of all the bills.

Finally, keeping the public more informed on infrastructure changes and traffic safety is essential for a safer environment. Providing accessible updates on City infrastructure spending—perhaps on the City website—would promote transparency and allow the public to better understand how projects are progressing.

Trailnet stands ready to assist.

Sincerely,

Cindy Mense, Trailnet CEO

2023 Q1 Crash Report

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For the third year, Trailnet is releasing a first quarter Crash Report, which compares the number of bicycle, pedestrian, and vehicular crashes from January 2023 to March 2023 to the same time period in 2022 within the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

There are a few trends worth noting:
  • 12 people were injured while walking or biking on Grand Blvd in the City of St. Louis in Q1.
    • Gravois Ave was the next highest crash corridor in the City. 8 people walking were injured. There were zero fatalities on Gravois in Q1.
  • A new high crash corridor emerged in St. Louis County. Clayton Rd, which was not a top crash corridor in either of our last two annual reports, has already been the site of three crashes in the County.
  • The Governors Highway Safety Association recently reported that, in 2022, the nation notched its highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1981. In St. Louis those numbers have continued to rise in 2023, with crashes in most categories increasing or holding steady in Q1.

The City of St. Louis’ BB120 funding has focused some of its attention on Trailnet’s previously-named high-crash corridors, which is a good start. We want to acknowledge the City for dedicating resources to this epidemic. Trailnet looks forward to learning more about how we can support the design and review of these infrastructure plans to help expedite the process towards construction.

In addition, we encourage both City and County officials to supplement infrastructure improvements with more urgent measures, including quick-build solutions, equitably implemented traffic enforcement and improved drivers education.

Trailnet will continue tracking this crash data—and regional leaders’ response to traffic violence— throughout 2023.