"Safer Streets" to be implemented in South Bend following Smart Streets initiative
“It’s about changing how we think about streets,” said Jitin Kain, Deputy Director of Public Works for South Bend.
The way we think about streets in South Bend just got a little safer. The National Complete Streets Coalition just announced Friday morning that South Bend is one of only three winners in the entire country to get some guidance from national experts and create safer streets for everyone living in the city.
“We applied for the program because we’ve made a lot of improvements in the last couple of years in changing how traffic flows through downtown, through some of our corridors, through our neighborhoods,” said Kain.
Piggy backing the finish to the Smart Streets initiative in South Bend, the Safe Streets Academy is a nine-month program to be implemented across the city.
“It’s a natural next step for us to find out what we can do throughout the community, what we can do in our neighborhoods where we get a lot of requests for speeding traffic, and so we expect to learn from our peers but also from national experts on how we can address these issues. Webinars by experts, face-to-face conversation, so it’s a peer-to-peer learning program but also learning from national experts on how to create safer streets for all users,” said Kain.
The number of people killed pedestrian versus traffic accidents continues to rise across the country. Between 2005 and 2014, more than 46,000 people in the U.S. were struck and killed by cars while walking.
“We know that one of the concerns that we often get from residents and businesses is speeding,” said Kain.
Back in January, ABC 57 News told you an 11-year-old boy was struck and killed by a pickup truck in South Bend on a busy intersection downtown. Several city leaders began looking into conditions of traffic changes at that time.
Now, unrelated to that research, an opportunity to bring in national experts popped up along the way.
“We want to make sure that we do everything that we can using best practices to address that issue and so this was a great opportunity for the city to apply and get some national expertise involved in providing some guidance,” said Kain.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg responded to the city receiving the award in a statement Friday.
“South Bend is proud to be among the leading cities on street safety. It’s important that our destination downtown is even safer and more accessible as more people choose to live, work, and play there. This program will help us continue to enhance our safety throughout the City,” said Buttigieg.