Buttigieg: US falls short on pedestrian safety 

Roads should be designed around the human being, says US transportation secretary
Mobility as a Service / March 26, 2021
By Ben Spencer
US transport secretary Pete Buttigieg bicycle pedestrian safety SXSW
Buttigieg: 'Sometimes we need to add a road - just as often, I think we need to subtract' 

US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US is lagging behind other countries in bicycle and pedestrian safety in a video for SXSW Online 2021.

“In other words, other developed countries are safer to walk or bike on than on American streets typically are," he says.

"The design choices we make about how fast cars move whether there's bike lanes and sidewalks sharing space with travel lanes, green space even; all of this is part of that picture,” he says.

Buttigieg describes all this is an example of what it means to have a “truly forward-looking approach on infrastructure”.

“Look sometimes we do need to add a road or widen one, just as often, I think we need to subtract.”

Buttigieg states that the mentality around roads in the 1950s was that they existed to move as many cars as fast as possible and whole cities were shaped on that assumption. 

“It turns out that we're better off if our decisions revolve not around the car, but around the human being,” he continues. 

“Now sometimes that human being is in a car, we got to make sure that car can get where it needs to efficiently and safely. Sometimes that human being is on foot or on a bicycle.”

Recent statistics back up Buttigieg's position. Preliminary figures from the US Governors Highway Safety Association suggest a 20% year-on-year spike in the rate of pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2020 - despite the Covid-related fall in road traffic.

The SXSW (South by Southwest) conference and festivals celebrate the convergence of interactive, film and music industries. 

Buttigieg was a keynote speaker in an online event that also featured conference sessions, music festival showcases, film festival screenings, networking and online exhibitions. 

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