At the January meeting of COG's Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee there was a presentation on the Regional Highway Safety Targets which could be viewed as a starting point for regional goal setting on safety. Because the region involves 3 state entities, it has three sets of data reporting and 3 sets of goals, and one thing COG is looking at is bringing them more in line. On top of that, there are federal reporting standards and federal goals (for example, the region should have no more than 528 nonmotorist fatalities and serious injuries over a 5 year period).
These safety targets, based on federal regulations, have been adopted by the TPB. MPO’s have the ability to either accept the State targets or to set its own numerical targets, which we have done. We will update these targets every year. We are required to coordinate with the States, which we have done.
The federal government also requires that the targets be data-based, so not aspirational. The targets are also based on five year rolling averages. Targets are for fatalities, number and rate, serious injuries, number and rate, nonmotorized fatalities and serious injuries, just numbers. There is no good way of measuring exposure for nonmotorized.
It would be helpful to communicate the need for better nonmotorized exposure data to the Feds. Strava sold its data based on the idea that it could be used to extrapolate existing bicycle and pedestrian count data to the entire system.
The target for serious injuries appears higher than the number recently seen and that's because of different target setting methodologies across the region, a recent uptick and a new definition in DC starting in 2015.
But the good news is that serious injuries have been dropping over the last decade (even if that decline has plateaued).
The dashed blue line is the "glidepath" for Maryland to hit its 2030 goal, which is currently beneath. It shouldn't take much improvement to hit the serious injury target.
One interesting thing is that DC's rates are all going up, which may be because it's all divided by VMT. But as more people in DC travel in ways that don't count as VMT (walking and biking namely) could that be throwing the numbers out of whack?
It does not look like planners are expecting the roads to get much safer in the coming years.