Cities Call Out States for Blocking Traffic Safety Progress

The National League of Cities went to Congress and called on states to stop focusing on vehicle throughput and start prioritizing traffic safety.

2 minute read

June 15, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Traffic Safety

Michael Vi / Shutterstock

The Highways and Transit subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on the traffic safety crisis earlier this month. Elaine Clegg, the president of the Boise City Council in Idaho and chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Services Committee of the National League of Cities, testified about how states prevent local governments from improving safety on streets.

Daniel C. Vock reports on Clegg’s testimony to the House subcommittee in an article for Route Fifty. Clegg cited examples from Boise to highlight how state departments of transportation focus on the speed and throughput of vehicles, rather than the safety of everyone who uses streets.

“In Boise, the state and city recently worked together on redesigning two roads along the edge of downtown. They are both one-way streets, with five lanes a piece. City officials, Clegg said, wanted to slow down vehicles and make it easier for pedestrians to cross. But the state disagreed,” reports Vock.

Vock reached out to the Idaho Transportation Department for a comment in reaction to Clegg’s testimony:

John Tomlinson, a spokesperson for the Idaho Transportation Department, told Route Fifty in an email that the department works with bicycle and pedestrian safety advocates and local communities to develop educational materials focused on saving lives. The agency also teams up with local law enforcement to raise awareness of bicycle and pedestrian safety in both urban and rural areas of the state, he said.

The tension between these two accounts is common around the country, according to Vock. Clegg and the National League of Cities proposed a list of recommendations meant to bridge the gap on traffic safety between the state and local levels.

  • Requiring more transparency on state spending of federal transportation funds
  • Regulation of vehicle design.
  • Additional technical assistance for smaller cities.
  • Speed delivery of federal traffic safety data.
  • Improve the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices based on data and research.

The recommendations above are listed with more detail in the source article.

Friday, June 10, 2022 in Route Fifty

View down New York City alleyway at nighttime

Red Cities, Blue Cities, and Crime

Homicides rose across the nation in 2020 and 2021. But did they rise equally in all cities, or was the situation worse in some than in others?

March 12, 2023 - Michael Lewyn

babyt Boomer Homeowners

The Shifting Boomer Bulge: More Bad News for America’s Housing Crisis?

In the first of a two-part series, PlaceMakers’ Ben Brown interviews housing guru Arthur C. Nelson on the sweeping demographic changes complicating the housing market.

March 12, 2023 - PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

A toll payment facility in Florida.

Tolling All Lanes

Bay Area transportation planners are studying a radical idea to reduce traffic congestion and fund driving alternatives: tolling all lanes on a freeway. Even more radical, the plan considers tolling parallel roads.

5 hours ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Close-up of person holding up smartphone next to contactless fare reading device on bus

Federal SMART Grants Awarded for Transportation Safety, Equity Projects

The grant program focuses on the use of technology to improve safety, accessibility, and efficiency in transportation.

6 hours ago - U.S. Department Of Transportation

Seattle Transit

Fare Enforcement Upheld by Washington Supreme Court

But using armed police to enforce fare payment is less than ideal in the eyes of the top court in the state of Washington.

7 hours ago - Crosscut

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.