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REPORT: Many pedestrians, bicyclists don't feel safe on Anchorage roads

 Bicyclist on sidewalk on Spenard Road
Bicyclist on sidewalk on Spenard Road (KTUU)
Published: May. 12, 2016 at 10:28 AM AKDT
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Anchorage is picking representatives for a new task force to reduce the number of pedestrian and bike related deaths on roadways.

The new Vision Zero Anchorage plan is entering its second phase. The campaign launched in March and is working to update municipal codes as well as better align future renovation and construction projects to make roads more accessible and safe for all modes of transportation.

According to the May 2016 Vision Zero report, “although 5 percent of people walk, bike, and ride motorcycles as their primary mode of transportation in Anchorage, combined they make up 52 percent of traffic fatalities.”

“There are people in the community who care desperately about the state of our streets,” said Katie Dougherty with the Anchorage Office of Economic and Community Development. “[They] would like to walk and bike more but don't feel comfortable doing that because maybe we don't have the infrastructure in place.”

According to the municipality, on average a bicyclist or a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle in Anchorage every three days. That's why pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists began talks with the mayor's office to come to a compromise and make the streets safer through new policies, engineering, education and enforcement.

“There will be human error because we're all human, but the road systems shouldn't fail us,” said president of Bike Anchorage Lindsey Hajduk.

The Vision Zero program received $912,000 in federal funding to fully research and develop a plan tailored to Anchorage.

The first phase of the campaign surveyed more than 500 residents.

While those surveyed "were fairly satisfied with driving safety," the research found, nearly half held a negative view of walking safety. Sixty percent said they were dissatisfied with biking safety in the city.

“There's been a lot of public interest, the bicycle community in particular is very interested in updating codes and changing the ways that streets are engineered, adding bike lanes,” said Dougherty. “It's about people travelling in different modes, because they know each mode is a as safe as the next.”

Vision Zero policies have been adopted in 15 cities across the US. New York City’s Vision Zero plan is reported to have reduced traffic fatalities by 22 percent in three years.