- Smart Growth America announced on Tuesday the three winners of its Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy: Durham, N.C.; Huntsville, AL; and Pittsburgh.
- The cities will work with Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition over the course of 10 months to implement demonstration projects that leverage emerging tech to promote safety and slow down traffic.
- The technical assistance program is funded by a Safe Systems Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition.
The Road to Zero Coalition, managed by the National Safety Council, notes roadway deaths have increased significantly from 2011 to 2016. The Coalition released a comprehensive report this year with strategies to reach zero road deaths in the U.S. by 2050. This may seem like a lofty goal, but the Coalition is actively working to foster collaboration among both public and private entities to achieve it.
Part of the Coalition's strategy to reduce road deaths is through grants such as the one presented to the Safe Streets Academy. While the Academy isn't helping cities start from zero when it comes to street safety — each applicant city was required to have either a bicycle and pedestrian master plan, a Vision Zero policy, a Complete Streets policy or related design guidance — the technical assistance that comes with being a part of the initiative will help the winning cities take such safety plans from paper to reality.
Despite what Smart Growth America called a "very competitive application process," the three winning cities shined due to their efforts to advance transportation technology and smart infrastructure. Durham leveraged first-mile/last-mile opportunities through pilot projects with Uber and bike-share operators; Huntsville implemented connected infrastructure tech to detect when bicyclists were approaching intersections; and Pittsburgh created a Department of Mobility and Infrastructure to promote safer streets.
By joining the Academy, these three cities will have the opportunity to collaborate through workshops and learning modules to further enhance tactical urbanism and creative placemaking, according to Smart Growth America. The Academy is coming off of a successful inaugural year, during which it helped Lexington, KY; South Bend, IN; and Orlando, FL, complete similar efforts and improve street safety across each respective city.