A report from the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities says the world's cities could be designed in ways that reduce traffic fatalities. For example, speed humps, chicanes, and curb extensions make traffic flows more contained. Narrower streets, more street connections, and smaller block sizes enhance road safety as well. Bicycling networks and pedestrian measures complement the design enhancements.
“Safety and design go hand in hand. Making cities safer is not just about changing behavior, it’s also about creating an urban environment that rebalances use of public space between cars and pedestrians and cyclists, assigning priority to the latter and reducing vehicle speeds,” said Ellis Juan, from the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI).
The World Resources Institute report is called Cities Safer by Design.
Over 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents every year around the world. Most of the people killed are pedestrians. Which city has more traffic deaths per 100,000 people each year, Atlanta or Tokyo? The traffic fatality rate is 9.7 per 100,000 in Atlanta but only 1.3 per 100,000 in Tokyo. You might not believe there is any connection between traffic deaths and national economies, but they amount to 3% of GDP in India and Indonesia.
Another stunning stat is that, by 2050, there could be 2.5 billion cars on the world's roads. Additionally, 70% of the world's human population might live in cities by 2030.
Cities are not only influenced by residents; there are many visitors too. London may receive 18 million visitors in 2015. Bangkok may have the same number, with Paris not far behind with 16 million. Tourists naturally aren't as familiar with how to move about a new city they are visiting and can clog transportation networks. However, they also contribute greatly to some city economies, so they are necessary and keep a constant flow of money coming in.
If you have ever driven in a city in a foreign country and found the experience daunting or very confusing it might be better for you and the rest of the city to use public transportation.
City design may eventually also factor in the popularity and power of mobile devices. Big-data tracking and analysis is probably something that help create more intelligent transportation services and manage traffic better.
Urban design has emphasized vehicle traffic, which is reasonable, but it could also accommodate intelligent data systems that provide unprecedented amounts and types of information that improve transportation efficiency.
Image Credit: Garry Knight, via Flickr & Wikipedia