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Twin Cities in top 15 for Pedestrian Safety--but still too many intersections without crosswalks

05/24/2011

 

BWTC color logo small
A program of Transit for Livable Communities

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2011
Contact: Hilary Reeves, 651-789-1415, cell:  612-554-1795, hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org

 

  • 12% of all traffic deaths are people walking
  • 1.5% of federal funding is for projects making walking safer
  • 17%  increase in walking in the Twin Cities, 2007-2010

(Saint Paul, Minn)--Walking is the first and most basic form of transportation. Nearly everyone is a pedestrian at some point each day, even if it is simply walking from home to the bus stop or from the car to the office. Walking is on the rise in the Twin Cities, increasing 17% between 2007-2010, according to data from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

While Minnesota ranks better than many states in the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities, there are glaring exceptions, according to the 2011 report, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), released today by Transportation for America. The report also includes an interactive map that allows searching for pedestrian deaths near any town in the US.

Between 2000-2009, 415 pedestrians were killed in Minnesota . While Minnesota is doing better than most states, ranking 39th of 50 in terms of pedestrian risk, crashes and fatalities are much higher for the elderly, children, and people of color—and at intersections without crosswalks or other features that make roads safe for all users.

Pedestrian Fatality Rates

  • Older Americans 50% more likely than those younger than 65
  • Hispanics 71% higher rate of fatalities than non-Hispanic whites
  • African Americans 127% higher rate of fatalities than non-Hispanic whites
  • For children 15 or younger, pedestrian injury 3rd leading cause of death by unintentional injury

Last November, a 38 year old woman was killed crossing Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis at an intersection that did not have a crosswalk. Nationally, only 10% of pedestrian fatalities occurred inside a crosswalk. But, funding for making walking safer lags far behind the rate at which people walk to get around. While pedestrians account for 12% of all traffic deaths, only 1.5% of federal transportation funding goes o projects that retrofit roads or create safe alternatives.

"Design matters. At Bike Walk Twin Cities, we're working with local jurisdictions to address some of the most dangerous corridors and intersections," said Joan Pasiuk, director of Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

Here are three projects to make walking safer funded by Bike Walk Twin Cities as part of the federal nonmotorized pilot program, authorized in the 2005 federal transportation law, SAFETEA-LU. Congress is considering whether to continue funding for walking and bicycling projects in the next transportation bill.

Cedar & Washington Avenues (also known as "7 Corners") in Minneapolis

Problem: Data from the Minneapolis Traffic Database indicates that 11 crashes occurred at the intersection of Cedar and Washington between 2002-2006, more than 2 deaths per year. The intersection is a busy one for truck traffic and for people too, especially given the proximity of the University of Minnesota.

Solution: Bike Walk Twin Cities awarded $765,000 to the City of Minneapolis to add medians and extend curbs so that pedestrians don't have to cover such a long distance when crossing. The changes would make it safer for people, but also accommodate trucks turning.

Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis

Problem: Franklin Avenue is noted in City of Minneapolis Traffic Crash Trend reports as a top pedestrian crash corridor, with 58 fatalaties crashes along the route between 2002-2006. "The biggest challenge faced by pedestrians on Franklin Avenue is crossing the street," said Katya Pilling, associate director of Seward Redesign. "At one point along the Avenue, a four-lane thoroughfare stands between a residential tower (with affordable housing for mostly East-African immigrant families) and the greenspace for their children; there is not a safe, direct crossing between the tower and greenspace," she said.

Solution: To deal with the intersections neighborhood residents identified as the most crucial, BWTC provided $62,000 to add curb extensions to narrow the crossing at 24th and 25th Avenues, add a crosswalk at Franklin and 24th, and for more countdown timers to aid safe crossing at Franklin and 26th Avenue. Pedestrian crossing signs also will be added.

44th, Penn& Osseo, North Minneapolis & Robbinsdale

Problem: This area, where three roads come together on the north side of Minneapolis, is a primary business node, but crossing on foot is prohibited on three of the four north-south crossings even though the intersection is served by several bus routes. The Victory Memorial Parkway section of the Grand Rounds bicycle trail is just to the north of the intersection.

Solution: Bike Walk Twin Cities is funding preliminary design , or "plan sets" for bike lanes and improved crossings for pedestrians, as well as suggestions for improving the overall pedestrian environment.

More roads in Minnesota could see similar improvements because Minnesota also has taken the key step of making "Complete Streets" the policy of the state. This policy means that Mn/DOT can work with communities to design new road projects and reconstruction projects with features that make them safer for a variety of users--from cars to bicyclists, to people walking or using wheelchairs, from the elderly to kids.

On the national level, the Safe and Complete Streets bill is being considered; it would make money available to states for these types of projects. Minnesota already has a Complete Streets policy at the state level, though it is less than a year old.

"Mn/DOT and seventeen local Minnesota communities have already stepped up with Complete Streets policies to make their roads safer for everyone, including pedestrians. But there is still much work to be done to improve safety for people walking and we need the federal government as a strong leader and partner for that effort. This report drives home that need and offers concrete steps that deserve action," said Ethan Fawley, transportation policy director for Fresh Energy.

"Some in Congress have questioned the federal interest in keeping pedestrians safe, believing it to be a strictly local issue," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. "Given the rising cost of gas, more and more people are getting out of their cars and seeking alternative forms of transportation. As demand increases, so too does the need to make sure that all of our roads are safe for everyone. Congress must stop punting on a long-term transportation bill and prioritize the safety of all road users and give states the resources they need to stem the tide of preventable deaths." The full report, Dangerous By Design: http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/

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ABOUT BIKE WALK TWIN CITIES

A program of Transit for Livable Communities, Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) runs the Minneapolis-area location of the federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program, authorized in the 2005 federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. Working with local jurisdictions, BWTC has invested more than $22 million to increase bicycling and walking as a means of transportation. BWTC has funded more than 75 miles of new bikeways and sidewalks (including the Riverlake Greenway, set to open June 11), innovative projects (including Nice Ride Minnesota bike sharing and the Sibley Bike Depot Community Partners Bike Library), outreach, planning, and measurement. BWTC’s annual counts of nonmotorized transportation show that walking is up 17% from 2007-2010 and bicycling up 33%. For more about BWTC, visit, http://www.bikewalktwincities.org

 

ABOUT TRANSPORTATION FOR AMERICA

Transportation for America (T4 America) is the largest, most diverse coalition working on transportation reform today. Our nation’s transportation network is based on a policy that has not been significantly updated since the 1950’s. We believe it is time for a bold new vision — transportation that guarantees our freedom to move however we choose and leads to a stronger economy, greater energy security, cleaner environment and healthier America for all of us. We’re calling for more responsible investment of our federal tax dollars to create a safer, cleaner, smarter transportation system that works for everyone. www.t4america.org

 

PAYING MORE FOR LESS— GOVERNOR SHOULD VETO TRANSPORTATION BILL

05/20/2011

For Immediate Release  May 20, 2011
Contact: Hilary Reeves, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1415; 612-554-1795 (evenings); hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org
Jenna Wade, Fresh Energy, 651-726-7568 (days); 612-819-7282 (cell); wade@fresh-energy.org


(Saint Paul, Minn.), May 20, 2011—A coalition of organizations agrees that the transportation bill passed by the House and Senate last night moves Minnesota backwards and should be vetoed by Governor Dayton.

“With $4.00 per gallon gas, more people are turning to transit to get work and make their own budgets balance,” said Barb Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities. “Cutting transit is not smart for Minnesota, for today or tomorrow. Governor Dayton should veto this bill.”

The transportation bill cuts $109.3 million from metro area transit and $7.6 million from Greater Minnesota transit. In the metro area, the bill would make people pay more for a smaller bus system. The Metropolitan Council says the cuts would lead to a 30% reduction in regular route service and a 50 cent fare increase.

The resulting base fare of $2.25 would make Metro Transit fares the highest in the country, deterring ridership and stressing household budgets. More than 100,000 people get to work every day on metro area transit. According to the Met Council, 27,000 of these riders would be lost, either back driving on increasingly congested roads or unable to get to work, school, and other key destinations each day.

Representative Terry Morrow (DFL, Saint Peter), said, “Today's Transportation budget bill throws Greater Minnesota's transit systems into reverse. Bus and dial-a-ride service will suffer---as will the seniors, students, disabled persons, workers and others who rely upon transit for getting to work, school, the doctor, church, grocery stores, and family and friends.”

Cuts to Transit out of Step with Business, Gen Y, and the Market

Throughout the legislative session, business leaders have challenged the cuts to transit. “Bold investment in transit attracts business. We see transit as critical to retain employees and businesses,” said Charlie Zelle, representing the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, at a transportation hearing earlier this session.

Yet, the Twin Cities lags behind competing cities, such as Denver and Seattle, in transit funding and ridership. The Twin Cities region also ranks 39th in the nation among metropolitan areas in extent of transit service to jobs, according to “Missed Opportunities,” a Brookings Institution report.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Generation Y (aged 30 and younger) are the largest demographic of homebuyers and increasingly desire walkable neighborhoods with convenient transit. Real estate forecasters indicate, too, that when the economy recovers, growth will no longer be at the edge of the metro but in areas where there are opportunities to connect housing and jobs. The 2010 Census already suggests that young families are moving back into inner ring suburbs. 

As the Governor and legislature work to find a solution to the state’s budget deficit, there are solutions that preserve vital transit service:

  • As the Governor has indicated, the solution should include increased revenue to preserve vital services and position Minnesota for a strong future.
  • The legislature could vote for an equal 50/50 allocation of revenues from the motor vehicle sales tax (MVST) to roads and transit. Transit currently receives 40% of this revenue. A fair split would raise close to $50 million per year, offsetting most of the $117 million biennium cuts to transit statewide included in HF 1140. Closing various exemptions to the MVST tax would also raise significant revenue.

Transit is a critical lifeline for seniors and the disabled throughout the state. Transit also benefits all road users by moving people far more efficiently than cars, thereby reducing the need for costly road expansion. Minnesotans deserve a transportation finance bill that moves the state forward, not backward.  

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Sent on behalf of Transit Partners:

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1005,Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Envision Minnesota, Fresh Energy, Isaiah, Twin Cities LISC, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Housing Partnership, MPIRG, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities

Signs at the Capitol—for Transit!

05/10/2011

For Immediate Release  May 10, 2011 

Contact
Hilary Reeves, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1415 (days); 612-554-1795 (evenings); hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org

Amber Collett, Transit for Livable Communities, 651-789-1416 (days), amberc@tlcminnesota.org

 

  TLCTransitAdvocates_AmberCollett

Saint Paul, Minn (May 10, 2011)— At the Capitol today, voices of thousands of transit riders from across the state were heard—in the form of postcards and signs representing cities where people use transit to get where they need to go. A roll call of cities was read in the Capitol Rotunda—Lakeville, Shakopee, Eden Prairie, Brooklyn Center, Osseo, Woodbury, and many more.

House and Senate transportation bills are now in conference committee. The House bill cuts the entire general fund allocation to transit, $130 million. The Senate bill cuts $32 million. The House cuts, if enacted, would lead to significant losses of weekday routes and the end of weekend bus service, according to testimony last week from Metropolitan Council Chair, Sue Haigh. Transit service in counties across the state would also be reduced or eliminated. Jennifer Munt, a member of the Met Council, said, “The cuts proposed by the legislature leave the Met Council with few options. And these are not realistic options. We know and business leaders know and transit riders know that we need transit to get to jobs and attract jobs.”

  Busriderspaytaxes

Many of the transit riders who signed postcards could lose their routes or see bigger crowds waiting at park and ride stations. Helen Duritsa, from White Bear Lake, who rides the bus and sometimes drives to work, said, “Every bus takes 40-50 cars off the road. If these cuts go through more people will be in personal cars. These cuts mean suburban families will pay more to get around and will spend more of their time stuck in traffic.”

Kathleen Murphy, a longtime transit rider from Richfield, depends on the bus and rail to get around. She cannot drive due to a hearing condition. “I have been riding the bus for 30 years. Every summer gas prices go up and then later they go down. Bus fares go up but they don’t go down. We already have seen big fare increases in recent years. If weekend bus service is cut, I and many people I know will be stranded.”

David Greene, a member of Isaiah, and a frequent commuter from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, spoke about the ability of the high tech company where he works to attract key talent if the Twin Cities turns its back on transit. “I’ve seen us lose key hires because they were concerned about livability—the cost of getting around. People are reluctant to move to a place where the only option for getting around is to drive.”

TransitAdvocatesCart_AmberCollett

Reverend Grant Stevenson, president of Isaiah, said “there is a deficit of moral clarity” right alongside the budget deficit. He said that cuts like those proposed for transit cut away at the core of our civilization, the community we all share.

Representative Frank Hornstein, from southwest Minneapolis, said, “This is a critical moment in the legislative session,” with bills in conference committee and nearing resolution. Representative Terry Morrow, from Saint Peter, joined the roll call with the names of cities in Greater Minnesota where more transit service is needed, not less. “This is a statewide issue. Half the people in Greater Minnesota can’t get a ride. In Saint Peter, I see people standing in parking lots waiting for rides that never come. All of Minnesota needs transit. It is a moral issue.”

“This event comes at a time when people across the metro are still looking for jobs. They are seeing gas prices rise to historic levels and now hear that the Legislature wants to cut bus service, making it even harder for families to make their check books balance,” said Barb Thoman of Transit for Livable Communities. “These cuts to transit effectively say to average Minnesotans, working people, seniors, people struggling to make ends meet in this economy, ‘it’s okay if you have to pay more or are stranded, unable to get to work or the doctor. You are not a high priority in this state.’”

As the roll call of cities was completed, transit riders and supporters set off in groups to deliver postcards to legislators. The list of districts with postcards delivered is as follows. Districts 59-67 will be delivered later this week. Copies of all postcards will go to Governor Dayton.:

2A, 2B, 7A, 7B, 10A, 10B, 11A, 11B, 12 B, 14A, 14B, 15A, 15B, 17B, 18A, 19B, 20B, 24A, 24B, 25A, 25B, 25B, 28A, 28B,, 30B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B, 34A, 34B, 37A, 37B, 38A, 
39A, 39B, 40A, 40B, 41A, 41B, 42A, 42B, 43A, 43B, 44A, 44B, 45A, 45B, 46A, 47A, 47B, 
49A, 49A, 49B, 50A, 50B, 51A, 51B, 52A, 53A, 53B, 54A, 54B, 55A, 55B, 56A, 56B.

Photo credit: Amber Collett, Transit for Livable Communities

# # #

Sent on behalf of Transit Partners:

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Envision Minnesota, Fresh Energy, Isaiah, LISC, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Housing Partnership, MPIRG , MPTA, Sierra Club, Transit for Livable Communities

 

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