TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The City of Tucson is working on finding ways to decrease the number of pedestrians killed on the city’s streets. So far in 2019, 12 people have been killed in pedestrian accidents; there were 13 at this time last year when the record was set. So this year is on pace to eclipse or tie 2018, which had 29 deaths recorded.
"Yes, of course, everyone wants to prevent all deaths," said Paul Cunningham, the Ward 2 City Council Member. "I don't know that we can do that."
He calls it a lofty goal and “that’s what we’re going to strive for.”
One thing standing in the way in Tucson is the city is a ‘car culture’ and has been for generations.
“That’s not going to change anytime soon,” Cunningham said, pointing out that there are a million people in 800 square miles.
"In some cities, there are a million people in 30 square miles," he said.
It can easily take an hour to drive from the far west side to the far east side, which makes taking transit difficult and time consuming. Even biking becomes almost impossible, especially during the summer.
So a preponderance of cars and pedestrians will continue to compete for space.
"It has been the priority of this council to emphasize pedestrian and bicycle safety," said Tucson's Mayor, Jonathon Rothschild.
But that, many times, conflicts with traffic engineers who see the main goal to move traffic from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Tucson Parks Bond passed by voters last year addresses safety on many levels as well, but the improvements are years down the road.
They can be found here: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parksbond#Parks
Whatever plans end up on the table and sees the sunlight, will in large part, depend on how much money the city is willing to spend.
“The city has many priorities,” said Cunningham. “Nobody has unlimited funds to do something like this.”
The Tucson mayor, Jonathon Rothschild, is proposing Municipal Improvement Districts for Safety, which need state approval.
And a handful of council members are proposing a 5-year Safety plan which will not eliminate the fatalities but has a goal to reduce them.