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Mayors Summit kicks-off year of safety for everyone on our roads

Mayors Summit kicks-off year of safety for everyone on our roads

America's mayors are busy people. They are on the front lines of providing citizens the municipal services they expect from their local government. So when mayors, elected officials, and other local leaders take time away from that duty --as they did yesterday-- to attend the Mayors Summit for Safer People and Safer Streets here at DOT's Washington, DC, headquarters, they're making a positive choice...and a clear statement.

Together, as 180 communities of different size, different geography, and different constituents, they're making a collective statement that improving safety on our streets for everyone who uses them --and particularly for the most vulnerable-- is a national priority. As Mayor Tim Dougherty of Morristown, NJ, said yesterday, "It's like with seat belts and distracted driving; if you hammer at it long enough and loud enough, people understand that this will save lives."

And individually, they're making an explicit statement that improving safety --by pursuing the seven activities of DOT's Mayor's Challenge-- will be a local priority for the foreseeable future.

Victor Mendez delivers opening remarks at the Mayors' Summit
Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez welcomes participants to the Mayors' Summit.

The fact is, we're living in the safest period in recent memory for travel, whether you're on a plane, in a car, or riding the rails.

Unless you happen to be walking or biking, in which case the number of people being killed each year has risen about 16 percent for pedestrians and 15 percent for bicyclists since 2009. Today, one of every five people killed on our roads is walking or biking.

In a nation as advanced as ours, roads should be safe and accessible for everyone who wants to use them.

Whether they're in a vehicle with advanced design and safety technology like a car, or exposed and unprotected under foot power. Whether they're children trying to get to school, or adults trying to get to work. And whether they're on the road moving in traffic on two wheels, or walking along a narrow strip of mud next to the road just trying to get to the nearest bus stop without the benefit or protection of a sidewalk.

First panel of the day at the Mayors Summit
First panel of an informative, productive Mayors' Summit .

Now, this Department can help. And we will.

We can identify and provide tools and guidelines and technical assistance. And we can help mayors and planners figure out what might work best for their cities in a world where one size does not fit all. We can provide funding support through our Federal Highway Administration, our Federal Transit Administration, and our TIGER program.

But the action, the hard work? That takes place on the ground right in the 180 Mayors' Challenge communities where people live and work and raise their families.

So we commend the leaders of these communities for their commitment, and we look forward to working with them over the next year to make biking and walking as safe as any other form of transportation.

People are counting on it.

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Comments

I see some cyclists and a lot of joggers with dark clothes and no lights/reflective gear. While free safety vests may not be an option, this needs to be a prominent part of the PR campaign.
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