How Sun Belt Cities are Improving Road Safety

Often car-centric, these cities in the South and West are working to make their roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.

2 minute read

November 2, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Marked bike lane on wide asphalt street with palm trees and Los Angeles mountains in background.

Felipe Sanchez / Adobe Stock

As their populations—and the number of pedestrian deaths—grow, Sun Belt cities Jacksonville Tucson and Memphis are rethinking their transportation planning strategies to improve safety and mobility for their residents. An article by Dan Zukowski, Julia Himmel, and Shaun Lucas in Smart Cities Dive reveals that “Nine of the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians are in the Sun Belt, according to a 2022 Smart Growth America report.”

The article describes the road safety efforts that three cities—Tucson, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles. In Tucson, “The city is now looking to introduce ‘road diets’ with bikeways and safer crossings, thus reducing and slowing traffic for a ‘better pedestrian experience on those roadways as well as reducing vehicular crashes,’” according to its Complete Streets program coordinator.

In car-centric Jacksonville, “The [Jacksonville Transportation Authority] is working with the city of Jacksonville, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and the Florida Department of Transportation to focus road construction more on people and less on automobiles as they build additional roadways” by improving pedestrian and bike infrastructure along transit corridors, among other projects.

In Los Angeles, where half of the county’s fatal and severe-injury crashes occur on 4 percent of roads, “DPW is implementing tactics to improve pedestrian safety that include curb extensions to slow vehicles making right turns, high-visibility crosswalks and traffic signals that give pedestrians extra time.” Thanks to new flexibility created by a state law that allows cities to adjust speed limits for safety, Los Angeles lowered speed limits on 177 miles of road in 2022.

Thursday, November 2, 2023 in Smart Cities Dive

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