Suite of analysis equips cities with tools to improve traffic safety
Cities across the globe now have more resources at their disposal to improve traffic safety and reduce crashes and fatalities. In December 2013, EMBARQ launched two publications that highlight the positive impact that sustainable transport initiatives – such as mass transport, bicycling, and walking – can have on traffic safety, in addition to numerous other co-benefits.
In coordination with the launch of the issue brief, “Saving Lives with Sustainable Transport,” EMBARQ hosted a Dialogue on Sustainable Transport and Traffic Safety on December 5, 2013 at the headquarters of the World Resources Institute (WRI), in Washington, DC. The following week, EMBARQ launched the report, “Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit,” accompanied by a video filmed in Mexico City, Mexico, and Istanbul, Turkey, that summarized the positive impact bus rapid transit (BRT) can have on life in cities for users, the environment, and public health.
These recent publications underscore EMBARQ’s pioneering role in research and analysis on the potential of sustainable transport solutions to improve quality of life in cities.
Dialogue on Sustainable Transport and Traffic Safety hosts top experts from across the transport sector
The “Dialogue on Sustainable Transport and Traffic Safety” featured opening remarks from EMBARQ Director Holger Dalkmann, a presentation by EMBARQ Associate Transport Planner and the lead author of “Saving Lives with Sustainable Transport” Nicolae Duduta, and a panel discussion with leading experts in the transport sector. The panelists were Tawia Addo-Ashong, Program Coordinator for the Global Road Safety Facility at the World Bank; Claudia Adriazola-Steil, EMBARQ Health and Road Safety Program Director; Ralph Buehler, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute; Kelly Larson, Global Road Safety Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies; and Barbara McCann, Founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. Clayton Lane, Chief Operating Officer for EMBARQ, served as the moderator.
Panelists emphasize link between sustainable transport and traffic safety
The most powerful takeaway from the panel discussion was the need to prioritize safety when designing transportation systems and infrastructure. As Addo-Ashong explained, safety is now a core part of the World Bank and other development banks’ transportation planning efforts, marking a profound change from the car-centric approach of previous decades. McCann underscored the need to design streets for a range of transport modes, citing that cyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable to serious injury or death and traffic accidents, and that most crashes resulting in fatalities or serious injuries occur in the developing world.
Traffic crashes are currently the eighth leading cause of death worldwide and projected to rise to the fifth leading cause by 2030. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), traffic crashes currently claim 1.2 million lives every year and injure as many as 50 million. While it is difficult to quantify lives lost in economic terms, that reflects a huge loss in human capital, which sustainable transport solutions can help avoid. Fittingly, Larson spoke to the importance of sustainable urban transport and the Bloomberg Philanthropies approach of shifting people from cars to safer modes of travel as one strategy to improve traffic safety. Other strategies include: increased seat-belt and helmet use, reduced speeding and drinking and driving, as well as improving road infrastructure.
“Is our city for cars or is it for people?”
By raising this simple question, Buehler steered the panelists’ discussion towards the necessary steps to shift urban development and transport planning towards sustainable transport solutions. While he emphasized the importance of effective land use and high-density, transit-oriented-development (TOD), Larson and Addo-Ashong stressed the importance of political will, adequate training, and changes to the decision-making process as prerequisites to achieving safe and sustainable urban development. Adriazola-Steil and McCann added another dimension to the conversation by highlighting the perhaps more complex, yet equally imperative requirement for a shift in mind-set among transportation planners, politicians, and urban residents alike.
“People don’t necessarily need to move in cars,” said Adriazola-Steil. “Alternative modes can be safer, fun, effective, and healthier. New York City is a good example because the question is different now. Instead of speed, it has become, ‘how do we move all these people safely and effectively,’ not how fast we can move them … In 30 to 40 years we’ll have 70% of the world’s population living in urban areas and that will be a huge strain on our cities. So how are we going to fix this problem – with more cars and overpasses, or some other way?”
EMBARQ works to scale up global impact of sustainable transport solutions
Through publications like “Saving Lives with Sustainable Transport” and “Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit” and on-the-ground projects in major cities around the world, EMBARQ is working to illuminate the path towards “some other way.” Sustainable transport solutions can save lives, reduce local air pollution, increase physical activity, and catalyze economic activity, and EMBARQ is committed to helping cities realize those benefits.
For more information on the relationship between sustainable transport and its co-benefits, download the issue brief, “Saving Lives with Sustainable Transport,” and the report, “Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit Systems,” from EMBARQ.