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Chattanooga challenges to create safer streets for pedestrians

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The city of Chattanooga is taking on a challenge to create safer streets for pedestrians. Some of the city's busiest streets are still lacking sidewalks, street lighting and bike lanes.
The city hopes the "Mayor's Challenge" creates safer streets in the next year and works to eliminate pedestrian deaths entirely.

" That is an aggressive goal, but one loss is a loss too many," said Police Chief Fred Fletcher, "And a loss to one is a loss to all of us."
A woman died after being struck by a car on Gunbarrel Road on Saturday.

Roschell Ware, 55, was hit while using her motorized wheelchair on the side of the road.

" I had known her over a long period of time and it's just tragic and unnecessary," said Jill Hindman.
Hindman wants to see more sidewalks and visibility for her own safety.
The TBI keeps count of all traffic-related crashes and shows there were 87 pedestrian accidents in Hamilton County last year. In 2013, the county had 93 pedestrian-related traffic crashes.    
Hindman says for her, staying off the streets is not an option.

"I think people think, if you're disabled then you should just stay home," Hindman said, "Well that's just not living for most of us."
The US Department of Transportation is challenging city mayors across the country to make streets safer for all pedestrians, and Mayor Andy Berke says he accepts the challenge.
Chattanooga will create action teams in neighborhoods to figure out which areas need improvement, asking the community to recommend city-wide solutions.

"I'm really happy to see they're including us in the conversations," Hindman said, "Because that's extremely important."

"There's no reason anyone moving around our city should feel like their life is in danger," said City Transportation Director Blythe Bailey, "So if there's any condition where someone is forced to do something unsafe, if they're in a wheelchair or they're walking or their biking, we want to correct that immediately."

Chattanooga is joining nearly 200 cities across the country in the Mayor's Challenge. Action teams will be asked to look at seven areas and recommend improvements to make the streets safer for pedestrians.

There's seven challenge activities are:

1) complete streets approach - street that are safe for all users,
2) fix barriers - focusing on accessibility for all users
3) gather biking and walking city data
4) design right for each neighborhood and its needs
5) create networks
6) improve walking and biking safety laws
7) educate and enforce proper road use behaviors

To learn more about the Mayor's Challenge for Safer People, Safe Streets, click here.  To participate in the Chattanooga challenge, contact the city DOT here or call (423) 643-5950.
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