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Harrisburg releases plan to eliminate pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian safety has become a critical issue. In just the past five years in Harrisburg, 19 people were hit and killed by cars while 105 were seriously injured. Nationally, the Governors Highway Safety Association recently released data that shows pedestrian deaths approaching a 30-year high.

‘Vision Zero’ is a campaign committed to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries across the country. City officials kicked off Harrisburg’s Vision Zero campaign in May 2018. Similar campaigns exist in many cities across the U.S., including in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and more. One of the overarching themes of Vision Zero is viewing pedestrian deaths as preventable, rather than inevitable.

Recently, Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced Harrisburg’s continued commitment to prioritizing the safety of pedestrians. Officials unveiled the next stage of the city’s Vision Zero strategy, which aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths and injuries by 2030.

Dangers to pedestrians

While pedestrians and vehicles are meant to share the roads, pedestrians are continually at risk given the difference in sheer size, power and speed. Some of the greatest threats to pedestrians include:

  • Substance abuse by drivers
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • An increase in distracted driving
  • Unsafe infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks and bridges
  • More powerful vehicles on the road

Nighttime also poses a risk to pedestrians. Over a nine-year period ending in 2017, pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent at night while daytime fatalities increased by 11 percent.

What Vision Zero will do

Across the country, Vision Zero initiatives commonly focus on improving the safety of infrastructure, reducing speed limits, investing in improved lighting and more. In Harrisburg, the city has committed to several specific projects. Changing State Street to add a bike lane into the current parking lane is one of the first projects. The city also plans to add a roundabout on 7th Street, as well as raised pedestrian crossings.

What you can do

Whether you walk to work, walk around your neighborhood or walk occasionally in town, sharing the road with cars, trucks and motorcycles can be perilous. Obeying traffic signals at crosswalks, staying off your phone and remaining vigilant especially at night can all help to keep you safe.

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