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

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Close-up of apartment rental listing on iPad or tablet device.

Colorado Becomes First State in US to Regulate AI for Bias

Under the new law, developers, deployers, and businesses using AI systems at “high-risk” for bias discrimination in critical areas like housing will be required to account for risks and be transparent about how the technology is being used.

29 minutes ago - People of Color in Tech

3D rendering of blue flying car over a cityscape and buildings, a river, and bridges in the background.

Minnesota Legalizes Flying Cars

A new Minnesota law outlines state registration of “roadable aircraft” and legalizes their use on state roads and highways.

1 hour ago - The U.S. Sun

Green highway signs on Highway 23 for Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan.

Michigan DOT Nixes Ann Arbor Highway Expansion

In response to public feedback, the Michigan Department of Transportation is no longer considering options to widen U.S. 23 on Ann Arbor’s east side.

2 hours ago - MLive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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.