Pedestrian safety expert brings recommendations for Tucson streets

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Last year was a deadly year for pedestrians on Tucson streets. It was bad enough it forced the city to create a pedestrian safety task force.

Tucson dealt with 25 fatal or life threatening pedestrian accidents in 2011 alone.

Wednesday Dan Burden, a national expert on pedestrian safety, led a crowd down some of Tucson's busiest streets.

"You are experience a lot of tragedies that you should not be happening," said Burden.  "They appear to be random events, but they're not.  There is a pattern."

"Tucson is a city of great speed.   With those conditions even the best crossings don't do much," Burden said.

Tucson's accidents have occurred all over, in crosswalks, out of crosswalks, in neighborhoods and along major roadways. It's left Tucsonans wondering if the city can really do anything to keep streets safe for pedestrians.

"I haven't seen a whole lot of response just a lot of head nodding, and nothing that takes new policies into account,"

Burden critiqued roads and intersections on his walk, noting details that could make a street safer.

For many locations Burden recommended what he calls 'a street diet,' where roadways can be made narrower, with fewer lanes of traffic.

He says expanding Broadway to more lanes would be a critical mistake.

Residents, especially those who walk and walk often bought into his argument.  They say it just makes financial sense.

"If you reduce the lanes, you reduce the cost especially in a time of economic crunch," said VP Rincon Heights Neighborhood Association Mark Homan.

But despite tough budget times and a spike in accidents.  Burden says Tucson has a lot to be proud of.

"Tucson is considered Americas best laboratories for new techniques.  More treatments have been put into Tucson than anywhere else," said Burden.

His biggest advice is to slow down and be alert.