It’s the most basic form of transportation, the one available to most of us regardless of age, the size of our bank accounts, or access to other options. It’s non-polluting, builds community cohesion and can dampen crime. And it’s something almost all of us could use far more of. In fact, it is tough to find a social, economic, or ecological problem it couldn’t help to address. Yet for too many Americans, walking remains far more perilous than it should be.
For the second year in a row, traffic deaths across the U.S. have spiked amid low gas prices, a recovering economy, lax laws and enforcement, and ever-increasing distractions. While this statistic is alarming, America Walks finds another development especially shocking: pedestrian fatalities are now outpacing traffic-related fatalities involving all other modes.
According to a recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration, an estimated 5,997 people were killed while traveling on foot last year, an 11 percent increase from the previous year and almost double the growth in overall traffic fatalities witnessed during the same time frame. It is the largest annual increase in the number and percentage of pedestrian fatalities in the 40 year that such statistics have been tracked. Ironically, this extraordinary spike comes at a time when there has arguably never been more interest in walking and walkable places.
Three hundred million tons of cargo--close to the weight of more than 20,000 Brooklyn Bridges, that’s the amount of cargo delivered by the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. Delivering 17 million pounds of torpedoes, tanks and fuel hourly by 1945, without these mariners, victory would have been impossible.
Described as the “fourth arm of defense” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the U.S. Merchant Marine had one of the highest death rates of all the services. Nearly one in thirty mariners did not survive the conflict. A service comprised solely of willing Americans, this “all-volunteer” force regularly sailed into combat zones, torpedo alleys and mine fields under fire in order to support their country. This dedication is what May 22nd is all about!
At this year’s National Maritime Day ceremony, the Maritime Administration awarded medals to one of these heroes, Morton Schlanger, for his service during World War II. A true example of the grit and determination that defined the Merchant Marine, at age eighteen Mr. Schlanger deployed to New Guinea with just one day’s notice. During his time at sea, Mr. Schlanger crossed through combat zones while transporting troops and supplies to and from the Philippines in support of the Pacific conflict. Of his time in the service, he says he “doesn’t regret a minute of it.”
On May 18, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the site of Atlanta’s new Interstate 85 bridge for a ceremonial reopening, less than seven weeks after the blaze that caused its collapse.
She told the crowd gathered there that, “The workers who helped to make today possible – the men and women who worked tirelessly to build this bridge – have impressed the nation and earned our thanks. The real heroes are right here, among us. Each one of them represents America’s best.”
The bridge work was completed a month ahead of schedule thanks to the quick influx of federal funds and fast and innovative financing for the contractor. The nation’s newest bridge features cutting-edge prefabricated components and state-of-the-art accelerated curing concrete.
Across the country, thousands of employees are forgoing their comfortable car ride to work in favor of a healthier, greener alternative—their bicycle. Let’s help keep our colleagues safe today, and every day.
In 2015, America endured a large and significant spike in motor vehicle fatalities, with 818 bicyclist deaths, accounting for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year. Seventy percent of these cyclists were in urban areas, like Washington, D.C. These tragic statistics are an urgent reminder that drivers behind the wheels of cars and trucks do not enjoy sole right to the road. The road is a shared space where everyone has rights and responsibilities. Check out NHTSA’s tips on staying safe on the road on this Bike to Work Day.
Secretary Chao celebrates National Bike to Work Week with DOT bicycle commuters.
With endless new vehicle safety technologies coming to market, one safety technology remains a constant in every vehicle: the seat belt. This basic foundation of safer driving saved 13,941 lives in 2015, alone. However, 2,804 additional lives could have been saved if everyone had buckled up. That’s why NHTSA remains committed to convincing every American to always buckle up—every trip, every time.
Between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved 329,715 lives, more than all other vehicle technologies combined. Thanks to a combination of the enforcement of seat belt laws and public awareness campaigns, seat belt use reached a record high of 90 percent in 2016, up from about 83 percent a decade ago. That’s progress—but it also means that, every day, millions of people put their lives at risk needlessly because they don’t buckle up.
Buses make up the backbone of every public transportation system in America, transporting people to work, school, health care, and other destinations. They’re also the most widely used form of public transportation in the United States, with as many as 48,000 buses on the roads in any given rush hour. This week, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held its annual Bus and Paratransit conference in Reno, Nevada, where more than 1,000 transit providers shared their knowledge and learned more about operations, maintenance, and transformative technologies. Matt Welbes, the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Executive Director, helped kick off the conference on Monday by providing remarks and showing an educational video, Keeping America on the Move, about transit bus services that are intended to help viewers understand how FTA uses federal tax dollars to support these vital services.
National Train Day was created in 2008, as a way to promote rail travel and its rich history in the U.S. It has been observed annually on or around May 10, the anniversary commemorating completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 when the Golden Spike was ceremonially driven at Promontory Summit in Utah. This year, National Train Day is May 13.
Railroads are vital to our nation’s intermodal transportation network and economy. Passenger trains connect people to work, school and family. So naturally, every day is National Train Day at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). While this day is usually marked by celebrations of railroad history, we think it’s a good time to emphasize the importance of railroad safety—the Department of Transportation’s top priority.
The Fiscal Times today praised Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao’s approach to infrastructure spending. Below are excerpts from that article, which is titled “The Biggest Barrier to Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Is Red Tape.”
“Given the overwhelming (and rare) bipartisan enthusiasm for infrastructure spending, it’s tempting for the Trump White House to charge ahead, on the assumption that this is one project that could move quickly through the legislative thicket.
“Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, is not going to make that mistake. Instead, she is focused on two objectives: streamlining the cumbersome red tape that drives up the costs of building our tunnels and rails and pushing for new financing models to ease the burden on the federal government. In the long run, attaining those goals will prove more important and enduring than a quick infusion of spending.
The two-wheeling event of the school year is finally here. Today, thousands of communities will be kicking it into high gear to celebrate the fun and value of pedaling to school.
Each year, participation in Bike to School Day grows and it’s thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of students, families, school administrations, departments of transportation, elected officials and community leaders nationwide. Already, over 2,500 schools and communities across the country are signed on to participate today and the number is expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout May, which is National Bike Month.
In San Francisco, riders of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuter rail are all too familiar with the challenge of finding a parking spot at transit stations on weekdays. With thousands of people – 35,000, at last count – on waiting lists to purchase limited monthly permits for BART parking lots, local officials are encouraging transit riders to carpool to maximize potential for daily parking.
At an Federal Transit Administration-hosted mobility workshop in April, 11 transit agencies reported on their progress after receiving Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox grants to test technologies that could improve situations like the one in San Francisco and find better ways of doing business.