The City of Los Angeles Safe Routes to School Action Plan and Progress Report, released in January 2017, guides investments for engineering, education, encouragement, and enforcement activities around schools in the City. “Every child should have safe, walkable streets on their way to school — and we can make that happen with strong partnerships, thoughtful planning, and wise investments,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

In Los Angeles, every three days, at least one youth is involved in a fatal or severe injury crash. They are also twice more likely to be hit during their travel to and from school than other times of the day. Redesigning streets, educating the public and enforcing laws are strategies to improve the safety of travel in school neighborhoods. A key desired outcome is to reduce vehicle speeds, a lead contributor to traffic deaths.

One of the most visible successes has been the City of Los Angeles Safe Routes to School program, which Nelson\Nygaard has led. Bringing communities together to walk to school helps reinforce the responsibilities that people walking, bicycling, and driving have to adhere to the rules of the road. Events have expanded two-fold over the past three years with over 170 schools and 65,000 students participating in 2016.

“Three years ago, we began our work in Los Angeles with a handful of schools,” says Drusilla van Hengel. “Through relationship building and strategic advice, we were instrumental in the development of what is now a deeply collaborative relationship between the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles Unified School District that prioritizes traffic safety for youth. We are honored to have informed the Action Plan, completed the Youth Safety Study, and supported the program’s Walk to School Day accomplishments.”

Read the report here.

In December 2016, the City Commission adopted the Nelson\Nygaard-led Grand Rapids Vital Streets Plan. The plan defines best practices and design goals in building a network of accessible, inviting and safe streets and rights-of-way that serve all people in Grand Rapids while protecting the quality of surrounding waterways and contributing to the livability and vitality of the community.

Rather than making separate plans for bicycles, transit, and vehicles, Grand Rapids’ new plan combines them all together and recognizes that different street types in varied settings serve different functions. The Vital Streets plan considers how the land – whether houses or hospitals – around the roadway is used, and designs the streets accordingly, putting Grand Rapids at the national forefront for street design.

“This is one of the best plans out there today,” said Karina Ricks. “City staff have really pushed the boundaries of the plan to innovate further than others have.”

According to Michigan Live, “The new plan came from a year-long engagement process with neighborhoods, business owners, schools, disability advocates, freight haulers and cycling coalitions along with the experts, Nelson\Nygaard. The plan will guide the city’s $22 million planned investment in city streets throughout the next 15 years after voters approved an extension of the city’s income tax.”

Read the report.

A new bus service, the Columbia Gorge Express in Portland, received the 2016 Innovative Transportation Solution Award from the Portland Chapter of WTS. To increase access to one of Portland’s closest and most visited natural attractions, Multnomah Falls, the Oregon DOT proposed a pilot bus service. Nelson\Nygaard conducted outreach and market analysis and worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to define the best transit service concept. The pilot service began operating in May 2016, carrying more than 4,600 riders over Memorial Day weekend. Over the summer 2016 season, approximately 30,000 trips were provided to and from Multnomah Falls. It will continue to operate in summer 2017 and is slated for expansion to other Columbia River Gorge destinations in 2018.

The Union Square Neighborhood Plan in Somerville, MA, won the 2016 Urbanism Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism, New England. To help frame the future growth of Union Square, including a new rapid transit station, Nelson\Nygaard examined all movement and streetscapes and recommended transportation demand management policies and multimodal improvements to prioritize transit, walking, and bicycling. The progressive Union Square Neighborhood Plan was adopted by the planning board in May 2016.

Thousands of people are struck and killed by cars each year while walking along America’s roads. Disturbingly, these dangerous situations occur as our nation’s top health experts are encouraging Americans to walk more and disproportionally kills pedestrians who are people of color, low-income, uninsured, or more than 65 years old.

A new report out today from Smart Growth America in partnership with Nelson\Nygaard looks at the alarming epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the United States, and what can be done to end it. Dangerous by Design 2016 ranks the most dangerous places for people walking by a “Pedestrian Danger Index,” or PDI, and explores who is most at risk of being struck and killed by a car while walking, including data that looks at pedestrians by age, race, ethnicity, and income. Explore the new online feature to see the full rankings of the 104 largest metro areas in the country and all 50 states, as well as interactive maps of where fatal collisions occurred.

As the report explains, changing the way we design streets is vital to prevent people from being struck and killed while walking. Design elements like wider sidewalks, curb extensions, refuge islands, pedestrian countdown signals, and midblock crossings (especially near transit stops) are all strategies that can calm traffic and protect people who are walking.

Nelson\Nygaard is proud to be a cosponsor of this research and remains committed to making walking and biking safer for people of all ages and abilities. Join the conversation on Twitter at the hashtag #DangerousByDesign or explore our Active Transportation success stories: