(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bike riding and walking is about to become safer in Santa Ana. California has awarded the city $3 million in grant funds to add new bicycle lanes and upgrade traffic signals, reported the Orange County Register. Along with several other cities across the state, Santa Ana applied for funding for the projects with the California Transportation Commission through its Active Transportation Program, which received requests for a total of $184 million in projects. Approved for six of the eleven projects it submitted to the agency, Santa Ana will spend the funding it receives on ‘bicycle boulevards’ along Bishop Street, Pacific Avenue, and Shelton Street and on designated bike lanes along Newhope Street, Civic Center Drive, and Grand Avenue. It will also be modifying traffic lights and signage near schools.
Much of the population relies on bike riding and walking to get around, so hopefully these improvements will have an affect on Santa Ana’s poor safety record for bicycle and pedestrian accidents. In 2011, the most current year for which the California Office of Traffic Safety has published accident data, Santa Ana ranked 4th out 13 cities with populations of over 250,000 for bicycle and pedestrian accidents in a ranking system in which 1st place is considered the worst.
Improving a city’s infrastructure for bike riding and walking is a critical element of any motor vehicle crash reduction program, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This includes ensuring the city is equipped with signed routes, marked lanes, wide curb lanes, and paved shoulders, as well as sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, and paths.
Adding bike lanes can not only reduce injuries but also boost the economy: after adding protected bike lanes to two car-congested streets in Manhattan, 8th and 9th Avenues, the city’s transportation department recorded a 35 percent drop in accident-related injuries for all street users on 8th Avenue and a 58 percent decrease on 9th Avenue. Business along 9th Avenue reported a 50 percent increase in income from retail sales-which is understandable, as stopping to make a purchase or check out a new business is much easier on a bicycle than in a car.
We’re looking forward to seeing how the new infrastructure in Santa Ana improves bike riding and walking, and maybe even the economy and traffic congestion too.
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