City leaders make final recommendations on pedestrian safety

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COLUMBIA - The Mayor's Task Force on Pedestrian Safety was set to make its final recommendations to the city council Monday. 

The primary recommendation of the task force is to make Columbia adopt a "Vision Zero" policy. Task force member Katie Essing said the goal of the policy is safety.

"It's a commitment that our community will accept no pedestrian fatalities or accidents," Essing said.

Essing and the task force said she believes zero accidents is an achievable goal for the city. 

"We spent a lot of time as a task force looking at the accidents that have unfortunately happened in Columbia," Essing said, "And there were many things that the committee feels could have helped with that."

The task force will make recommendations under three categories.

Education

  • Adopt a "One Percent for Safety Education" policy
  • Develop a comprehensive traffic safety education and communication campaign
  • Work with other organizations to develop education campaigns and policies
  • Promote all traffic safety innovations and improvements

Enforcement

  • Increase funding for police traffic safety enforcement
  • Prohibit cell phone use and texting while driving
  • Reduce legal, posted speed limits
  • Improve and reform enforcement of speed limits and prosecution of violators
  • Specifically, utilize automated enforcement such as red light cameras and speed cameras
  • Improve coordination and data sharing among law enforcement, other agencies, and the public
  • Provide routine bicycle and pedestrian safety training for law enforcement officers

Engineering

  • Start a new program of Road Safety Audits and Assessments
  • Create a new position of Traffic Safety Engineer/Crash Analyst
  • Identify engineering design parameters that contribute to pedestrian deaths and injuries
  • Improve and reform road design and engineering standards to increase safety

Columbia pedestrian Katie Dudenhoeffer said the goal of eliminating accidents is unrealistic.

"Accidents are called accidents for a reason," Dudenhoeffer said. 

Dudenhoeffer frequents areas in which bicyclists and pedestrian share the road with drivers. She said she doesn't believe the recommendations are necessary.

"They aren't going to change how people think, or people getting distracted by a song on the radio or their phone," Dudenhoeffer said.

The task force does not mention specifics about funding its recommendations. Essing said the city council is responsible for the budget, which won't be set until this fall. 

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