It’s no secret that New Urbanists like walkable streets. Yet one of the major challenges to the creation of walkable streets has been engineering concerns about traffic safety. Features such as narrow travel lanes, street trees, and other pedestrian amenities are often regarded by traffic engineers as being a safety hazard. New Urbanists have generally dealt with this problem by treating it as part of the ongoing battle of “motorists vs. pedestrians”.
But what if we could demonstrate that the New Urbanism can save the lives of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike?
Recent research by Professor Eric Dumbaugh has shown that on the issue of traffic safety, New Urbanists can claim the high ground. The community design features encouraged by New Urbanists report substantially fewer traffic-related crashes, injuries, and deaths than do the “passive safety” solutions favored by traffic engineers. The reason, as discussed in Dr. Dumbaugh’s article “Designing for the Safety of Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Motorists in Urban Environments”, is that walkable urbanism provides urban road users with the information needed to adopt safe operating behavior, leading to a significant reduction in crash incidence