Deadly by Design
The Connecticut Department of Transportation's Fatal Neglect of Pedestrian Safety
Research and Writing: David Hiller & Francisco Gomes, Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
One Union Place
Hartford, CT 06103
The Connecticut Bicycle Coalition was founded in 1977 to advocate for bicyclists and bicycling. CBC’s current mission is to promote bicycling and walking through education and advocacy. CBC works every day to promote a healthy, walkable, bikeable Connecticut.
Deadly by Design
The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Fatal Neglect of Pedestrian Safety. October 2001.
Research and Writing: David Hiller & Francisco Gomes, Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the following:
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), whose groundbreaking report “Walking Away” was the basis for much of the work done here. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is an alliance of public interest, transit advocacy, planning and environmental organizations working to reverse deepening automobile dependence and sprawl development in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut metropolitan region.
The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP), who raised the bar with their report “Mean Streets”, which brought the plight of the walking wounded to the public for what may have been the first time. STPP is a non-profit organization working to ensure a diversified transportation system. The goal of STPP is to ensure that transportation policy and investments help conserve energy, protect environmental and aesthetic quality, strengthen the economy, promote social equity, and make communities more livable. They emphasize the needs of people, rather than vehicles, in assuring access to jobs, services, and recreational opportunities.
David Head, Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator at the Connecticut DOT. David elevated the standard for Bike/Ped coordinators in Connecticut and will be missed when he moves on. CBC wishes him well in his future endeavors and hopes that his replacement is equally thoughtful and deliberate in his advocacy for non-motorized transportation.
Danger to pedestrians is a serious public safety problem in Connecticut, and our research reveals that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) is doing little to fix the problem. Pedestrian accidents account for approximately 16 percent of traffic fatalities – killing 50 to 60 men, women and children in Connecticut each year. An additional 1,300 pedestrians, on average, are injured in traffic accidents every year in Connecticut. 1
Since the passage of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, the State of Connecticut has invested more than $60 million in federal funds specifically earmarked for building and installing transportation safety features and facilities.2 Almost none of this investment has been directed to pedestrian safety.
Our analysis finds that between 1998 and 1999, the ConnDOT invested about $3,800 in safety money per pedestrian fatality. In contrast, the state spent more than $39,000 per motor vehicle driver and passenger fatality during the same period, and more than $1 million for each death at a rail/highway crossing3. Although pedestrians make up more than 16 percent of traffic fatalities, pedestrian safety received less than 1.8% percent of transportation safety capital spending since 1998.4
Summary of Main Findings
· Pedestrians are involved in only 3% of the accidents in Connecticut but make up 16% of the people killed and 9% of those who receive serious injuries. Comparatively, less than 1% of drivers in Connecticut are fatally injured in accidents. 5
· Connecticut’s fatality rate is the highest in New England. 6 When weighed against the percentage of commuters that walk to work versus drive, the pedestrian fatality index in the Hartford metro area exceeds that of both Boston and New York City metropolitan areas. 7
· Sixty-seven percent of pedestrians killed are senior citizens (37%) or children (30%).8 Additionally, motor-vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death for school age children.
· The change in federal transportation policy represented in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) has meant a considerable increase in investment in facilities for foot and bicycle transportation (primarily from ISTEA "transportation enhancements" program). However, this increase has not reduced pedestrian fatalities or injuries in Connecticut. This is largely because these projects fail to target pedestrian safety in a systematic way.
· Replacing ISTEA in 1998 was TEA-21 (the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century). TEA-21 specifically added bicycling and walking hazards as well as traffic calming to the list of eligible Hazard Elimination Program Fund (HEF) authorized activities. ConnDOT has not approved the expenditure of any HEF monies for these activities.
· The funding that TEA-21 provides to improve transportation safety is not reaching Connecticut pedestrians. Of the $29.7 million of TEA-21 safety funds Connecticut spent from 1998 to 2000, less than 2%, or just over $0.5 million, was spent on pedestrian safety.9 Preliminary analysis revealed that CT had spent none of these safety funds on pedestrians, but further analysis yielded some projects that contained incidental safety improvements.
· Increased state funding for sidewalks and traffic calming strategies would be a cost effective strategy for reducing traffic fatalities in Connecticut. Reducing accidents involving pedestrians would save lives, since pedestrians are at increased risk of fatality or severe injury when involved in a traffic accident.
Implementation of the following would represent major steps toward a pedestrian-friendly transportation policy in Connecticut:
· ConnDOT should permanently establish a pedestrian set-aside in the local aid program that would provide municipalities with monies to construct sidewalks and implement traffic calming projects.
· ConnDOT should commence stand-alone sidewalk and crosswalk projects, including maintenance and reconstruction on state routes where pedestrian danger spots are apparent.
· The DOT Commissioner's office should adopt and vigorously enforce the US DOT policy on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation, which states that all projects “shall accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in a manner that is safe, accessible and convenient” (Appendix C).
· ConnDOT should develop a fully staffed non-motorized transportation bureau. Presently, one half-time person, among ConnDOT's thousands of employees, handles pedestrian and bicycling issues. Staff should be able to provide municipalities and metropolitan planning organizations with professional, community-oriented advice on infrastructure and engineering.
· ConnDOT should give priority selection of local transportation aid to “Safe Routes to School” projects. The Legislature should pass a law to make clear that safe walking routes to school are eligible for high priority status.
· The Legislature and ConnDOT should permit road narrowing and traffic calming on state highways as part of a Flexible Highway Design policy.
· ConnDOT should annually report on pedestrian safety projects and progress toward the goal for reduction of pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
· ConnDOT should provide access to federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding to improve high demand pedestrian environments. The State currently allows only Enhancement money to be used for this purpose, which is less than 5% of the total ConnDOT allocation.
· ConnDOT should explicitly recognize traffic calming and pedestrian safety in its sections authorizing funds for safety construction projects. Additionally, these funds would be used in more locally responsive ways if programmed by metropolitan planning organizations like the Capitol Region Council of Governments, instead of directly by state transportation departments.
1. Connecticut Traffic Accident Facts 1998, ConnDOT Bureau of Policy and Planning, Office of Inventory and Forecasting.
2. Computation of Apportionment of Surface Transportation Program Funds Authorized for Fiscal Years 1998. United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
3. Expenditures for STP-Hazard Elimination and Optional Program by Federal Fiscal Year 1998-2000, FOI 9-01 Hazard Prog Expenditures.
4. Connecticut Traffic Accident Facts 1998 & Expenditures for STP-Hazard Elimination and Optional Program by Federal Fiscal Year 1998-2000.
5. Connecticut Traffic Accident Facts 1998.
6. Traffic Safety Facts 1999: State Traffic Data. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, D.C., 2000.
7. Mean Streets 2000. Pedestrian Safety, Health and Federal Transportation Spending. A Transportation and Quality of Life Campaign Report Surface Transportation Policy Project. Washington D.C.
8. Connecticut Accident Summary Tables (CAST) Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data, Pedestrian Involved Accidents. ConnDOT Bureau of Policy and Planning, Planning Inventory and Data Unit, March 8, 2001.
9. Expenditures for STP-Hazard Elimination and Optional Program by Federal Fiscal Year 1998-2000.
10. Traffic Safety Facts 1999: State Traffic Data.
11. Mean Streets 2000.
12. Connecticut Accident Summary Tables (CAST) Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data, All Traffic Accidents ConnDOT Bureau of Policy and Planning, Planning Inventory and Data Unit, August 8, 2001.
13. Connecticut Accident Summary Tables (CAST) Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data, All Traffic Accidents.
14. Computation of Apportionment of Surface Transportation Program Funds Authorized for Fiscal Years 1998.
15. Connecticut Traffic Accident Facts 1998.
16. The National Bicycling and Walking Study: Transportation Choices for a Changing America. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-PD-94-023.
17. Connecticut Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, Connecticut Department of Transportation Intermodal Planning, Chapter 6 of Existing and Programmed Bike and Pedestrian Facilities 2001.
18. Mean Streets 2000.
19. Expenditures for STP-Hazard Elimination and Optional Program by Federal Fiscal Year 1998-2000.
20. Suggested List of Surveillance Study Sites (SLOSSS) 1996–1998. State of Connecticut Department of Transportation Bureau of Policy and Planning, Planning Inventory and Data Unit.
21. Mean Streets: Pedestrian Safety and Reform of the Nation's Transportation Law. Surface Transportation Policy Project and Environmental Working Group. Washington, D.C., 1997.
22. Connecticut Department of Transportation Annual Safety Report, 2000-2001.
23. Connecticut Department of Transportation Annual Safety Report 2000-2001.
24. Connecticut Department of Transportation Annual Safety Report, 2000-2001
25. Traffic Safety Facts 1999: State Traffic Data.
26. A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets 1994. AASHTO. Washington, D.C.: 1995.
27. Traditional Neighborhood Development Street Design Guidelines: Recommended Practice. Institute of Transportation Engineers, 1999.
28. Connecticut Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan, Connecticut Department of Transportation Intermodal Planning, 1999.
29. Traditional Neighborhood Development Street Design Guidelines: Recommended Practice.
30. Traffic Engineering Handbook, Fifth Edition. Institute of Transportation Engineers, Washington D.C., 1999.
31. A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets 1994.
32. Traditional Neighborhood Development Street Design Guidelines: Recommended Practice.
33. Litman, Todd. Traffic Calming Benefits, Costs and Equity Impacts, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Victoria, B.C. 2000
34. Connecticut Accident Summary Tables (CAST) Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data, Pedestrian Involved Accidents.
35. Connecticut Accident Summary Tables (CAST) Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Data, All Traffic Accidents