Effects of Urban Greenway Construction on Pedestrian and Cyclist Injury Rates, Travel Patterns, and Estimated Vehicular Emissions

In the United States, pedestrians and cyclists face significantly higher fatal injury rates than motor vehicle occupants. (Pucher, & Lewis, 2003) Per kilometer traveled, pedestrians are 23 times more likely and cyclists 12 times more likely to die from roadway crashes than car occupants. As such, pedestrians and cyclists can be considered vulnerable populations when forced to share roadways with motor vehicles. (Gardner, 2004) Most of the fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists on the roadway are associated with three factors. (Bergman, Gray, Moffat, Simpson, & Rivara, 2002) First, roadways have not been designed to handle the ever rising number of vehicles, causing unsafe conditions for the alternative road user, pedestrians and cyclists. Secondly, roadways are almost exclusively designed to serve motor vehicles rather than the alternative road user. Third, the lack of separate pathways for pedestrians and cyclists forces them to come into direct contact with motor vehicles. These three conditions require pedestrians and cyclists to share the right-of-way with fast moving traffic, creating a situation clearly associated with the higher rate of pedestrian/cyclist injury rates. (Gardner, 2004, 5) Therefore, pedestrians/cyclists may be safest when they are separated from motor vehicles. (Bergman, Gray, Moffat, Simpson, & Rivara, 2002) By developing a separate right-of-way for pedestrians and cyclists, several potential outcomes have been proposed in the injury prevention and planning literature, including: 1) lower injury and fatality rates among pedestrians and cyclists (Bergman, Gray, Moffat, Simpson, & Rivara, 2002), 2) reduced fear and anxiety associated with a person's physical, or built, environment which may reduce perceived barriers to walking/cycling (Loukaitou-Sideris, 2006), and 3) increased physical activity among people, both children and adults, living in impacted neighborhoods. In spite of these positive health and quality-of-life outcomes, policymakers and planners face significant challenges to constructing separate transportation corridors for pedestrians and cyclists such as acquiring right-of-way and, perhaps most importantly, financial cost. (Bergman, Gray, Moffat, Simpson, & Rivara, 2002)