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City audit shows where Dallas is failing pedestrian safety

Details mentioned in the audit include a backlog of more than 1,500 crosswalks that haven't been repainted.
Credit: Thinkstock

DALLAS — A report published by the City of Dallas Auditor's Office gives recommendations on how to improve pedestrian safety, and where the city has been falling short.

The city and the Dallas Department of Transportation have undertaken many programs to improve pedestrian safety and have a goal with a new plan, Vision Zero, to eliminate traffic fatalities and reduce severe injuries by 50% by 2030. 

Several streets with multiple pedestrian incidents have been identified, along with efforts to address them, but the audit notes that the Dallas Department of Transportation doesn't have any performance measures or written procedures directly related to pedestrian safety.

Maps from the audit show the vast majority of these pedestrian incidents happen on downtown streets. Dallas City Council Member Paul Ridley, whose district covers downtown, said he thinks it's important the city establishes a clear priority on the safety of pedestrians.

"In Dallas, we tend to prioritize vehicular transportation, and I think our community is demanding that we pay more attention to pedestrian and cyclist safety," Ridley said. "It's very important. If we want a walkable city, it's necessary that we create conditions that are safe for pedestrians."

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Included in the audit are details such as a backlog of 1,500 crosswalks that need to be repainted, and that the city doesn't maintain pedestrian countermeasures as often as federal and state guidelines recommend. 

Those guidelines recommend pedestrian traffic signs be replaced every ten years, but the city only replaces them upon notice of them needing replacement or by citizen request. 

"It tells me that we could be doing a much better job and not just responding to citizen complaints, but having a regular inspection program," Ridley said.

The audit recommends the department develop pedestrian safety-related operating procedures and that pedestrian traffic signs should have scheduled inspections for reflectivity and be replaced every ten years as guided. 

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A response from the Dallas City Manager's office included with the audit states the office agreed with most of the audit's recommendations, except for aligning a maintenance schedule for pedestrian safety with leading criteria and prioritizing pedestrian traffic over other modes of transportation. 

"We believe that given the variety of functions of our roadways systems (e.g. residential, major thoroughfare, etc), we must prioritize safety for all variations of multimodal movement and users, including pedestrians," the City Manager's response stated. "Moreover, we believe the city’s Vision Zero initiative will play a sig role in addressing the risk identified by the auditor and providing a safer roadway system for all users, including pedestrians."

Ridley said the council would be ignoring the city manager's recommendations regarding these two criteria. 

We have the resources to address this issue, that's why we adopted this Vision Zero plan to direct our resources to achieving the objective of zero pedestrian fatalities and a 50% reduction in serious injuries," Ridley said. "I don't think it's sufficient now to say we don't have the resources."

Note: The following video was uploaded on May 31, 2022

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