The latest federal transportation funding reauthorization, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), includes a new grant program aimed at decreasing bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities and injuries. States where the amount of bicyclist and pedestrian traffic deaths exceeds 15 percent of total annual statewide traffic deaths will be eligible for approximately $14 million in annual grant funds under Section 4005.
Based on 2013 data, 22 states (see map below) are eligible for these funds. The grants may be used for three purposes: to train law enforcement personnel about state pedestrian and bicycle safety laws, to fund enforcement campaigns related to such laws and to fund public education campaigns for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The federal share of this program is 80 percent. Grants will be awarded to state highway offices.
- Bicyclists and pedestrian fatalities made up 17 percent of total traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2014.
- The number of Americans walking and bicycling for transportation is rising; according to the American Community Survey, 4 million Americans reported walking to work in the past week when surveyed in 2013, compared to 3.3. million in 2005, and 860,000 bicycled to work, compared to 530,000 in 2005.
- There were 4,884 pedestrian fatalities in 2014, compared to 4,892 in 2005 and 4,302 in 2010.
- There were 726 bicyclist fatalities in 2014, compared to 786 in 2005 and 623 in 2010.
- There were 65,000 pedestrian injuries and 50,000 bicyclist injuries in 2014.
- 28 states have safe bicycle passing laws that require motorists to allow at least three feet when overtaking a bicyclist; Pennsylvania has a 4 feet passing law and South Dakota requires 3 feet to pass on roads with speed limits less than 35 MPH and 6 feet for roads with speed limits greater than 35 MPH.
- 30 states have some sort of complete streets policy. “Complete Streets” are planned, designed, built, operated and maintained to accommodate the safety and convenience of all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists, regardless of age and ability.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Government Accountability Office, League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Law University and the National Conference of State Legislatures.