Certainly good news on the Vermont highway fatality numbers, down in 2013 to the lowest number, 43, since World War 2 (front page of Freeps today). The trend in the U.S. continues a downtrend which has slowed in recent years. Unfortunately for those who walk and bike, the trends here and nationally are not so favorable—U.S. walk fatalities up three straight years 2010-2012 and two of those three years for cycle fatalities.
Here in Vermont the five walk fatalities in 2013, 12% of our total remains but a single fatality below the national figure for 2012 of 14%. The proportion of walk mode fatalities of all highway fatalities since 2000 has slowly climbed from 11% to 14%. While no Vermont bicycle fatalities have been recorded for three years, a single fatality now puts us at the national average of 2%. Still, while everyone walks, bicycling on our busy streets remains the province of mostly young adult males so is not comparable to the majority of modern nations where the bicycling mode participation is universal (and those nations have the modern safety infrastructure for the walk and bike modes largely missing in Vermont cities-including Burlington--and nationwide.
As the highway safety community well knows, U.S. itself once first now ranks 15th in highway fatality rates with the top nations half our rate.
Here in Burlington--where more walking and cycling occurs—the numbers remain disturbing. Every three years (2.7 years since 1998) a fatal injury occurs in Burlington—all six in this statistic at signalized intersections. The majority were on foot and bicycle (three pedestrians, one cyclist), two young adult drivers and overall a third seniors. The most recent (and counted here), Julia Gorda, 20, at the crosswalk in front of Staples just a few feet beyond our City line in South Burlington (US 2) by a vehicle traveling from the City east in the 25 mph zone.
All the intersections where the six died can be roundaboutized—and that is the prime reason for installing roundabouts--safety for all modes. The roundabout cuts serious and fatal intersection injuries by about 90% (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2000). We all want more walking and biking more for ourselves, our families, and our community—but in order for this to be realized there needs be safe walking and biking “infra,” mostly lacking in Burlington and Vermont.
Hope you can attend or watch later streamed online from CCTV the “Embrace the Roundabout Workshop” March 31--prime sponsors are our Neighborhood Planning Assemblies 2/3 and 4/7