EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – An ordinance will be up for consideration at the next El Paso City Council meeting (July 19) regarding a “Complete Streets Policy” that would help improve street safety and promote active living in the city.

Officials say the El Paso Complete Streets Coalition has been working on this adoption for two years.

The policy before the El Paso City Council serves to create a connected, resilient and equitable transportation network through a shift in street and road design that ensures equitable access to community resources for all people.

The matter comes before the council as the Dangerous by Design 2022 study by Smart Growth America again ranked El Paso among the nation’s 20 most dangerous places to walk.

The city was ranked 20th in the 2021 study and rose to 18th in the 2022 study, which was released this week.

Members of the El Paso Complete Streets Coalition – a diverse group of national and community-based organizations working towards the common goal of promoting a complete streets policy to improve the safety, health and quality of life of all El Pasoans – has been working over two years to bring the policy to a council vote.

Complete Streets plans alter the way cities design and build streets and roads. Instead of focusing solely on motor vehicles, neighborhoods are designed and built for the safety of all users, including those who walk, bike, use a wheelchair, use public transportation and drive.

City council is poised to adopt a vision that promotes the safety and well-being of individuals and families alike. This most recent study by Smart Growth America shows us El Paso still has work to do to improve pedestrian safety. Implementing a Complete Streets plan will contribute to making our streets safer for all El Pasoans.

Eva Olivas, Community Impact Director, American Heart Association

We hope the El Paso City Council will pass the Complete Streets policy for the benefit of our community and those we will welcome in the future,” Olivas added. “Passing this Complete Streets policy will not only improve the quality of life for all El Pasoans, but it will also put El Paso on the map as having one of the best Complete Streets policies in the nation.

Eva Olivas

By 2025, nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. Roughly one-half of all non-drivers over the age of 65 have said they would like to get out more often.

El Paso is a vibrant city and home to many multi-generational households. Older adults value their independence and want to be able to walk safely to the places they frequent – the grocery story, church, senior centers and the like.

Yvette Lugo, Director of the Area Agency on Aging, Rio Grande Council of Governments

It’s not just the senior citizens who are at risk; youth need protection, as well. Besides the obvious threat of injury – and possibly death – there are unique health needs facing the next generation. More than one-third of kids and teens are overweight or obese, which can lead to higher risk for pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and joint problems. Safe spaces are needed for bicycling and walking to help El Paso youth be active and gain independence.

The coalition conducted street audits of El Paso neighborhoods to gather data about the condition of local streets and to identify locations where design elements could improve public safety. These audits revealed a lack of crosswalks, utility poles in the middle of a sidewalk, long crossing distances, lack of shade, or sidewalks that end and force people to walk into roadways.

More than 40% of pedestrian fatalities occur where there is no available crosswalk. Pedestrian crashes decreased 88% with sidewalks; 69% with a hybrid beacon; 39% with medians; and 29% with road conversions.

Smart Growth America empowers communities through technical assistance, advocacy and thought leadership to create livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity. We work with elected officials at all levels, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, transportation and urban planning professionals, and residents to improve everyday life for people across the country through better development.

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