Press Statement For Immediate Release Contact: Victor Cordero, 915-472-0985 March 30, 2014 Why Do TxDOT and El Paso DOT Build Killer Streets Instead of Complete Streets? City hits a dozen pedestrian fatalities in first 3 months of 2014; Advocates seek solution, demand Complete Streets El Paso, TX – El Paso may be the Safest City in the U.S., but that distinction won’t protect pedestrians trying to cross the street. A 51-year-old man was fatally hit by a car in the Lower Valley on Friday night, bringing the death toll in the first three months of 2014 to 12, nearly one pedestrian fatality per week. El Paso led the state in pedestrian fatalities in 2007, according to the El Paso Times. Traffic Fatality Statistics, available on the El Paso Police Department’s website, show that there were 79 pedestrian deaths between 2009 and June 2013. “Our streets are killing us. We need to prioritize the lives of people over cars,” said Scott White, Policy Director of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition. Last August, Velo Paso issued a statement following the tragic deaths of Jose Cordova, a 9-year-old boy who was killed while riding his bicycle, and two pedestrians who were fatally struck by motor vehicles within 90 minutes of each other on opposite sides of the city. The advocacy group urged the city to implement Complete Streets, a policy referenced in the Comprehensive City Plan, which was approved by the El Paso City Council in March 2012. The Comprehensive Plan devotes entire chapters to “Community Concerns” and “Strategies for Addressing Community Concerns,” in which practical solutions to safer pedestrian access throughout the city are organized and described in great detail. Hazardous streets like Mesa are dissected, diagrammed and analyzed, then given specific guidelines on how to enhance safety and ease of access. In Community Concerns, the Comprehensive Plan states that “most of El Paso’s major arterials are designed only for high-speed vehicular traffic. Walking, bicycling, or using transit are often unsafe or even impossible […]” Input gathered from public meetings conducted during Comprehensive Plan information sessions showed that community members emphasized the need for “neighborhoods, place-making, safety, personal mobility, and the potential for streets to add value to their surroundings rather than as a means to more quickly get somewhere else.” Mesa, a TxDOT road and the site of several tragic pedestrian deaths, is described as “unfortunately [having] been [designed] with a focus solely on facilitating automobile travel […] While the posted speed limit is 35 mph, the majority of cars currently travel down Mesa Street at speeds between 40 and 50 mph – well above the safe range for pedestrian activity.” The plan offers a step-by-step solution that involves narrowing car lanes, “widening sidewalks, and encouraging street-oriented buildings [that] will, over time, improve the behavior of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.” “We know there’s a plan to incrementally improve dangerous streets in El Paso,” said Victor Cordero of Velo Paso. “We need City Council and TxDOT to make Complete Streets their top priority and move forward on it as soon as possible. Lives are at stake.” ### BACKGROUND About Velo Paso: Velo Paso is a group of avid cyclists and engaged citizens from across the Paso del Norte region who want to improve conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians in our community. For more information, please visit www.velopaso.org, www.facebook.com/velopaso, and www.twitter.com/velopaso.