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Lawmakers want new protocols to reduce bike, pedestrian accidents

In recent weeks, we have talked about national car accident rates and pedestrian accidents. It is a growing concern both here in Anchorage and across the nation because, after years of decreasing accident and traffic fatality rates, things have normalized and, in some cases, gone the other way.

Of particular importance here is pedestrian safety. Pedestrians are inherently more vulnerable than anyone else out on the road. When they enter a crosswalk, it is supposed to be a protected zone -- but nothing is going to stop a car that comes rolling through that crosswalk. Pedestrians are dealt catastrophic injuries when they are hit by other cars; injuries that can change their life forever.

Bicyclists also fit in this category; though they are slightly more protected in the case of an accident (they should be wearing a helmet, after all). Still, they are very vulnerable out on the road.

With these two groups in mind, federal lawmakers in Congress are requesting that the Department of Transportation implement some new protocols regarding bike and pedestrian safety. The call is being made at both the national and state level; the former would involve setting a goal for the number of national bike or pedestrian accidents, while the latter involves states implementing "performance measures" to reduce such accidents.

This all comes on the heels of a report that shows traffic fatalities dropping over a four-year period (from 2008 to 2011), while pedestrian and bike accident rates remain steady. Federal officials may also ask for increased funding to make our roads safer for bikes and pedestrians.

Source: Transportation Nation, "Dozens in Congress Press for Nat'l Bike and Pedestrian Safety Goals, Measurement," Martin Di Caro, March 28, 2013

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