According to a new report from the World Resources Institute, Cities Safer by Design (already reported in this website as design and urbanism principles to promote traffic safety) the safest cities in the world (Tokyo, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, and Hong Kong) present a number of design measures that have proven effective:
- Keep cities compact. When sprawl development rather than compact urban design becomes the norm, so does car travel. Short block lengths, as well as concentrated housing and business districts, allow easy, walkable access to public transit and reduce dependence on personal motor vehicles. Sprawl does the opposite, with deadly effects.
- Reduce traffic speeds. The faster drivers are going, the more likely they are to kill or gravely injure anyone they might hit. The report suggests traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps, raised pedestrian crossings, and sidewalk extensions to slow cars in urban areas.
- Create streets that are for people, not just cars. Pedestrian islands, wide sidewalks, plazas and bike lanes are all part of an environment that reduces the primacy of the automobile—as well as fatalities.
- Make public transportation safe, affordable, and convenient. Because then people will use it. The report cites the example of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which recently launched a bus-rapid transit system, complete with rebuilt streets designed to make walking to the stations safe. It now carries 700,000 passengers a day. According to the report, systems such as this one can cut traffic death and catastrophic injuries from crashes in half.
- Use data mapping techniques to identify problem spots and target design fixes. With modern data-collection capacity, analysing patterns of danger becomes much easier, allowing officials to put resources into the intersections and streets that pose the greatest risk to citizens.