New study outlines pedestrian safety issues on NC streets

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a nonprofit organization that
improves the quality of life for kids and communities by promoting active, healthy
lifestyles and safe infrastructure that supports bicycling and walking.
In the early-to mid-1900s, North Carolina was once deemed
the “Good Roads State” due to its state-of-the-practice
transportation investments aimed at linking disconnected
reaches of the state and fostering a sense of community.
In more modern times, the adoption of North Carolina’s
Complete Streets policy in 2009 was championed as a new
era for the Department of Transportation (NCDOT) as the
agency promised to embark on more focused consideration
of the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in all of its
However, in 2013, North Carolina shifted gears. With the
passage of Strategic Transportation Investments
law (House Bill 817), North Carolina made a statement that it considers
motorized transportation to be its primary transportation
priority. This law prevents any state dollars from funding
projects that are solely to improve conditions for bicycling
and walking.
In September 2014, Governor Pat McCrory unveiled a
new vision for transportation in North Carolina,
Vision25, which offered a glimmer of hope for improved conditions
for walking and bicycling. It states that “transportation
infrastructure can’t be improved with a ‘one-size-fits-all’
approach” and that North Carolina must “expand bicycle
and pedestrian routes” because it is part of “what people
look for when making the decision where to move or where
to relocate a business.”
Unfortunately, the state has a long way to go to achieve
Governor McCrory’s vision. Pedestrians and bicyclists
are dying at a rate of one person every 46 hours in North
Carolina, and the state sits on a stockpile of more than $14.9
million in unspent Safe Routes to School funding meant to
make it safe for children to walk and bicycle to and from
As of September 2014, NCDOT had obligated only 52
percent of its federal Safe Routes to School funds ($15.9
million of $30.7 million), the third worst rate among all
southern states. Only Louisiana (47 percent) and Tennessee

(51 percent) rank worse than North Carolina while Alabama,
Florida and Georgia have obligated more than 90 percent
of their allocation. Neighboring Virginia is dramatically
outpacing North Carolina with 87 percent of its funds
About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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