Want to kill fewer peds and cyclists? Simple. Set the goal.
Good thing: more people are walking and biking in the United States. Bad thing: bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities have increased slightly, representing 16.3% of all traffic deaths in 2012 compared to 2011's 15.6%.
Meanwhile, motorist fatalities have continued to fall, from 37, 423 people in 2008 to 32, 367 people in 2011.
If you believe in that sustainability adage that "what gets measured gets managed" you'd be surprised to know that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) doesn't measure its safety performance when it comes to saving pedestrian and cyclist lives. In fact it has no safety goals for the non-motorized transportation segment.
This constitutes, according to the League of American Bicyclists, a huge safety 'blind spot.' Less than .5% of Highway Safety Funds are spent on improving safety for those who walk and bike. And without a safety goal, it's very unlikely that more money will go to improvements.
Two bills before Congress, HR 3494 and S 1708, are designed to change that, by pressing US DOT to set performance measures for reducing both deaths and serious injuries.
"It's very simple," said Carolyn Szczepanski of the League of American Bicyclists. "US DOT has goals for traffic fatalities but not for cyclists and pedestrians. We are pushing for them to set a goal, and meet it. Some level of accountability needs to be part of the conversation."