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Putting People First When Designing Streets

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​It is up to all of us to ensure our streets are safe for everyone who uses them, whether someone is in a car or bus, or on a bike or sidewalk. 

When we build roads, we don’t build one road for new drivers and a separate road for experienced drivers. When creating sidewalks and bike lanes, we need to make sure that we’re building them for all people, not just for experienced cyclists and physically fit pedestrians.

Opportunities for Action

• Identify your community’s values and priorities to better balance the needs of all users.
• Adopt Vision Zero policies and make safety your top goal.
• Design your streets to prioritize people, not just cars.
• Create and track performance metrics so that over time, your community can evaluate how all modes of traffic are being accommodated, including cars.
• Focus on development near transit, especially in your community’s downtown.
• Use existing streets more efficiently, and convert space to encourage growth while also allowing all modes to use the streets.
• Implement strong Complete Streets policies to serve all users.
• Enforce safety on streets.

To Make Our Roads Safe for Everyone, Consider the 8-80 Rule

Here’s how to assess whether the roads where you live or work are safe for everyone:

Step 1: Think of a child you know who is around 8 years old. This could be anyone – a son or daughter, grandchild, sister, brother, cousin, neighbor, etc.

Step 2: Think of an adult you know who is around 80 years old. This could be a parent, grandparent, friend, former co-worker, neighbor, etc.

Step 3: Ask yourself: Would you send that 8-year-old out with the 80-year-old on a walk, or a bike ride on a nearby sidewalk or bike lane? If you would, then it passes the 8-80 test, and it’s safe enough for most people to use. If not, it fails the test, and we need to work harder to make it safe and inviting for all people.

This rule may seem simple, but when we actually think about this, most of the places in our communities that have been built for walking and biking are not safe enough for people ages 8 through 80.

Find more ways to create healthy streets in our short video: Strengthening Communities through Healthier Streets at:
GetHealthySMC.org/HealthierStreets. 

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