© 2022 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Columbus Launches Effort To Curb Growing Roadway Deaths

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther at left, talking about Livingston Rd. between James and Nelson Rds. The area has a high concentration of car crashes.
Adora Namigadde
/
WOSU
Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, with Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther at left, talking about Livingston Rd. between James and Nelson Rds. The area has a high concentration of car crashes.

The city of Columbus announced a new initiative Tuesday to reduce car crash deaths. More than 50 people die in car crashes in Columbus every year, a number that officials say has been going up.

Vision Zero Columbus is a two-year action plan to make roadways more user-friendly for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Columbus Department of Public Service director Jennifer Gallagher says initial findings show that 65% of severe or deathly crashes happen in only 10% of city streets.

“Some of the plan’s strategies will be visible to the community,” Gallagher says. “Improvements like bus stops and crosswalks and changing the speed limit downtown, because is recognized and prioritized as the fundamental factor in how severe a crash will be.”

Less visible strategies involve studying ways to re-orient traffic and updating already-planned roadway projects with these changes.

“There will be times where we’re redesigning roads. We always have to rebuild and maintain our roads,” Gallagher explains. “So it’ll be as we’re doing that. It’ll be as we’re looking to narrow a road or something along those lines.”

As part of the project, the city identified a “high injury network” of city streets where people involved in car accidents have a higher chance of dying.

Some streets in the network run through nearby cities, including Livingston Avenue between Nelson and James Roads in Bexley.

“I would argue that for a significant period of time, we’ve been designing roadways only from the perspective of someone inside a vehicle and how quickly they can get from point A to point B, which isn’t necessarily focused on safety of everyone in the community,” says Mayor Andrew Ginther.

Columbus will budget $3 million for improvements to roadways spurred by the project.

There will be a virtual public hearing discussing the initiative on Thursday, March 4 at 5 p.m.  

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.