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California planners meet to discuss pedestrian safety

As Americans throughout the nation are more frequently choosing alternative means of transportation such as walking or bicycling to get from point A to point B, state and local governments will need to plan accordingly to make sure that the roads are safe for all users.

Last week, regional planning executives from around the state met in Sacramento for the Peds Count! 2014 Summit, a bi-annual conference that examines the current efforts being taken to make California’s cities and counties more pedestrian friendly.

Research presented at the conference suggested that pedestrian safety remains an important issue as the number of “walking trips” among Californians has doubled since 2000.

However, the planning executives were also quick to point out that less than 1 percent of the state’s transportation funding currently goes to walking and bicycling, despite people choosing these “active” modes of transportation in greater numbers.

Even though the planners are admittedly facing an uphill battle when it comes to getting adequate funding for projects that benefit the state’s walkers and bikers, such as more walking and bike paths, they were optimistic that this could change with the help of pedestrian advocates.

“I think the revolution is here,” the director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments said. “I think it’s a whole new world in transportation planning.”

Whether it’s for health, financial or simply enjoyment purposes, many more California residents are choosing to walk or bike instead of drive.

State and local governments have a duty to recognize the changing needs of the public and adapt accordingly. Failing to do so could expose government entities to civil liability if pedestrians and bikers are injured in accidents because of unsafe roads.

Source: Streets Blog LA, “CA’s Regional Agencies Tout Increased Ped Safety Funding in Sacramento,” Melanie Curry, May 15, 2014

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