Today, 55% of the population worldwide lives in cities. According to The World Bank, the number will double by 2050, with about 7 in 10 individuals dwelling in urban areas. For urban centers to accommodate and employ the growing population, they must do more with less. This entails becoming greener, smarter, and more efficient. Adopting innovative urban planning and design concepts is also key to promoting health and making roads safer. Typically, road safety initiatives revolve around personal behavior approaches like seatbelt and helmet wearing and defensive driving. But our changing views of the city can reduce road accident fatality rates significantly. Here are proven urban designing principles that enhance road safety.
Eliminate Urban Sprawl
While urban sprawl has its benefits, such as creating opportunities for local economic growth, it has tons of adverse effects. The impacts of urban sprawling include air and water pollution, traffic congestion, increased road accidents, and loss of wildlife habitat, parks, and open spaces. When cities spread out, travel time increases, forcing residents to spend extra hours in their vehicles traveling from one point to another. Given the heavy dependence on cars and trucks increases the risk of road crashes, city planners should focus on compact and connected urban designs. Compact cities tend to be safer than those that sprawl over a large area. For example, Tokyo has lower traffic death rates than Atlanta, a sprawling metropolis. With this in mind, urban designers should design cities that allow people to access public spaces conveniently without the need to drive.
Design Safe Main Roads For All
Pedestrians and cyclists have the right to use public roads, meaning they deserve to feel safe in every street and intersection. For this reason, city planners should design main roads with cyclist and pedestrian safety in mind, not just vehicles. Doing so reduces the risk of facing lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a complex and high stake litigation, as Janet, Janet and Suggs explains. Building complete streets is an excellent way to ensure motorists, cyclists, and jaywalkers use all roads in the city more efficiently and safely. For example, road engineers can design pedestrian islands on the streets. These safety features provide safe spaces for jaywalkers to stand as they wait for automobiles to pass when crossing a street. That way, they don’t risk getting hit as they rush to make it to the other side of the road. Other features of complete streets include bicycle lanes, pedestrian-orientated sidewalks, green infrastructure, signage, lighting, and accessibility for all.
Embrace Big Data
Using big data in urban planning proves beneficial as it provides insights into areas with high traffic accident risks. Urban planners can obtain information from integrated road infrastructures and reported incidents to create road crash data. They can then use the data to design detailed maps of areas with high traffic fatality rates and allocate the required resources to enhance safety.
Designing urban cities with safety in mind is now more critical than ever. As the urban population increases, cities should avoid sprawling to reduce traffic congestion and accidents. City planners should also design roads with inclusion in mind and adopt big data technology to get insights into what residents want and how they can enhance safety.