Opinion: Make Safe, Slow Streets the Default

For people with disabilities or limited mobility, a lack of safe infrastructure can cause significant disruptions, delays, and safety hazards.

1 minute read

October 12, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Writing in Next City, Anna Zivarts, director of the Disability Mobility initiative at Disability Rights Washington, stresses the significance of improving road conditions for people with disabilities.

As Zivarts points out, “I hate the term ‘vulnerable road users’ because of its paternalism and the agency it takes away from those of us outside of vehicles, but the reality is we are less safe than the people in vehicles.”

Maybe there’s no stoplight, no stop sign, no crosswalk or curb ramps. Maybe there is a light but there’s no audible signal or the countdown isn’t long enough, especially if we have to dodge cars making right turns. Maybe we know cars go too fast and regularly blow through lights, and we’ve been hit or almost hit, or know someone who has.

For Zivarts, making conditions safer for people with disabilities means improving roads for everyone and “fighting for every street to be somewhere you want to walk or roll along.” Zivarts points to traffic calming projects that slow traffic in neighborhoods to make streets safer for non-drivers. In Seattle, for example, the city employs one-way streets in some neighborhoods to reduce vehicle speeds. Zivarts posits that this type of strategy should be employed at a larger scale. “What if slow speed streets were the default for our cities?”

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 in Next City

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