Pedestrian Activity and Safety – In the U.S. and the Knoxville Region

Smart Growth America recently released a new Dangerous by Design report that looks at pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. between 2016 and 2020 and how the pandemic impacted these trends. The report compares state and metropolitan areas based on the number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. It also estimates the change in walking activity between 2019 and 2020 based on data from cellphones and other mobile devices. 

A major theme in the report is the continual increase in people being struck and killed while walking. Although there was a decline in driving in 2020 due to the pandemic, there was also a 4.7 percent increase in people killed while walking. This trend of increasing pedestrian traffic deaths can be tracked back to 2009 and has continued into 2021. Specific to Tennessee, the state as a whole had the 17th worst pedestrian fatality rate, and saw an estimated 68 percent increase in walking activity in 2020 compared to 2019. Out of the 100 metropolitan areas ranked, Knoxville came in at number 63 for pedestrian deaths. Memphis was number three, Nashville was 41, and Chattanooga was 65. The report also estimates that the Knoxville area saw a 78 percent increase in walking activity in 2020 compared with 2019. That’s the third highest increase among all 100 metros. Birmingham, AL was ranked number one with an 82 percent increase, and Greenville, SC was ranked second with a 79 percent increase.

A newly released infographic from the TPO provides an analysis of similar information – pedestrian- and bicycle-related traffic crashes specific to Knoxville and the Region. That data shows that while major arterials make up only six percent of surface street mileage in Knoxville, they account for 43 percent of all pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and 35 percent of all serious injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. According to the Dangerous by Design report, solutions to these issues should focus on lowering traffic speeds and changing the design of major arterials. The city has proven its commitment to traffic safety through recent measures such as the city-wide speed limit reduction on all unmarked neighborhood streets and a study conducted earlier this year to identify solutions to speeding on arterials and collectors.

Program of Projects Available for FY2022 FTA Sections 5307, 5310, 5339

The Executive Board of the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) will hold a Public Hearing at its regular meeting on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. in the Small Assembly Room of the City-County Building, 400 Main Street, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the purpose of considering public comment both written and oral on the proposed Program of Projects (POP) funded by Fiscal Year 2022 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Transit, Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities, and Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility for Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities grant funds.

The proposed Program of Projects (POP) is a list of projects by each agency receiving FTA Section 5307, Section 5339, and Section 5310 funding. For FY2022 Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), Knox County CAC Transit, East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA), and the Knoxville Knox County Planning received funding.

The City of Knoxville is the official designated recipient of the FTA Section 5307 & 5339 funds. Knoxville Knox County Planning is the designated recipient of the Section 5310 funds. The times established for public review and for allowing public comment on the POP follow the TPO’s Transportation Improvement Plan public involvement process. If there are no changes, the POP will be considered final.

The proposed POP and additional information can be viewed at www.knoxtpo.org. Interested persons, agencies, and private transportation providers are encouraged to participate. To be mailed or faxed a copy of the POP, or to provide comments contact Doug Burton at 400 Main Street, Suite 403, Knoxville, TN 37902; or at (865) 215-3824 or at doug.burton@knoxtpo.org. Comments must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 to be read during the meeting. Clearly indicate your comments are on the POP and include your full name and email address. Comments received will be read into the record during the live meeting.

While not the official public hearing, the POP will be an agenda item at the TPO Technical Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 12, 2002 at 9:00 a.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City-County Building, 400 Main Street, Knoxville, Tennessee. The TPO Technical Committee meeting is open to the public and persons can make comments or ask questions concerning the proposed POP. For more information on the TPO Technical Committee meeting visit www.knoxtpo.org.

Deadline Extended to Provide Input for Advance Knox

Knox County last updated its Comprehensive Plan nearly 20 years ago. During that time, the county has experienced significant growth and change. Advance Knox is a unique opportunity to align land use and transportation goals to create a blueprint for the County’s future. It will help guide decisions about where and how future growth occurs and where investments in infrastructure and services are made in the years to come.

A series of public workshops took place from March 27 – March 30 at seven locations throughout Knox County. Though the in-person events have concluded, community members can still provide input through May 10. All activities that were provided at the workshops are now available online at advanceknox.org.

For more information about Advance Knox, please contact the project team at contact@advanceknox.org. You can also find more information and sign up to receive email updates at advanceknox.org.

Research Released by NHTSA on 3-Foot-Passing Law Enforcement

In 2018, the City of Knoxville and nonprofit organization Bike Walk Knoxville partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and TPO to conduct a study. The research focused on educating drivers and protecting the lives of bicyclists in Knoxville. The full study was released earlier this month.

Tennessee law and City of Knoxville ordinance require that drivers who are passing bicyclists give at least 3 feet of space. One challenge is making sure drivers are aware of the safety requirement, and another is enforcing the law to help keep people riding bicycles safe.

As part of this study, officers from the Knoxville Police Department outfitted their bicycles with technology to measure and record the distance of passing vehicles. They used these bicycles for a high-visibility enforcement campaign in which drivers who passed too closely were pulled over and given either warnings or citations.

Bike Walk Knoxville helped to recruit many of the civilian bicyclists who participated in the research. They rode in Knoxville for several months prior to the enforcement campaign with equipment on their bikes to collect data on passing distances. The information they collected helped to measure how driver behavior changed after the enforcement campaign.

The NHTSA researchers found that after the enforcement campaign, the average passing distance of drivers increased, and the share of drivers who passed within that dangerous 3-foot zone decreased.

For more information on this research, visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/min3tn. To see the report, visit the TPO’s page dedicated to bicycling and walking studies.

Advance Knox Workshops Scheduled

Knox County last updated its Comprehensive Plan nearly 20 years ago. During that time, the county has experienced significant growth and change.

Advance Knox is a unique opportunity to align land use and transportation goals to create a blueprint for the County’s future. It will help guide decisions about where and how future growth occurs and where investments in infrastructure and services are made in the years to come.

Now that the project is underway, a series of public workshops has been scheduled for later this month. The first round of community engagement, named Ideas Week, will be held March 27 – March 30. The workshops will last approximately 90 minutes and will introduce the community to the project. Participants will work in small groups to generate ideas and participate in map-based activities. The workshops will be hosted at seven locations throughout Knox County and community members are encouraged to attend the event most convenient to them.

In addition to the seven in-person workshops, there will also be opportunities for virtual participation. Anyone interested can attend a virtual workshop by registering ahead of time. There will also be activities available on the website to allow community members to provide input and share their ideas in another format following the workshops.

Ideas Week:

March 27

1:30 Gibbs Middle School

March 28
5:30 Hardin Valley Middle School
5:30 Carter High School

March 29
12:00 Virtual workshop
5:30 West High School
5:30 Northshore Elementary School

March 30
5:30 South Doyle Middle School
5:30 Powell High School

For more information about Advance Knox, please contact the project team at contact@advanceknox.org. You can also find more information and sign up to receive email updates at advanceknox.org.