Tuesday morning, officials with the El Paso Complete Streets Coalition announced their working partnership with the City of El Paso, to implement a complete streets policy to improve street safety and promote active living.
Coalition members share that they believe this effort could not have kicked off at a better time, in light of a recent study showed that El Paso ranks among the most unsafe cities nationally for pedestrians.
The metropolitan area was ranked the 20th most dangerous nationally by the Dangerous by Design 2021 study conducted by Smart Growth America.
“El Paso is one of the safest cities in America, and that’s true when we’re talking about crime statistics,” said Abraham Torres, public health program manager with the American Heart Association of El Paso , which is a member of the coalition. “But when it comes to pedestrian safety, we have some work to do.”
Lisa Rodriguez with AARP of Texas agrees. “When it comes to pedestrian accidents, many involve older adults. We view complete streets as an issue of livability and a key part of creating age-friendly communities.”
Improving street safety is also seen by collation members as a critical issue for protecting El Paso youth. “Whether it’s walking, biking, skating, or wheeling to and from school, we see too many stories of kids being hit by cars in situations that could have been prevented with improved street design, street amenities, and driver education,” said Kristen Ortega with Action for Healthy Kids.
In February, the coalition held an online community forum featuring local leaders from El Paso and national complete streets experts. During the meeting, El Pasoans were asked to become a part of the solution by conducting street audits in their own neighborhoods. The purpose of the audits is to gather data about the condition of local streets and to identify locations where “complete streets” design elements would improve public safety.
Officials say examples include lack of crosswalks, utility poles in the middle of a sidewalk, long crossing distances, lack of shade, or sidewalks that end and force people to walk into roadways.
To get involved, residents are encouraged to visit the El Paso Complete Streets website for a street audit form and instructions for completing one in their neighborhoods.
“We are excited City Council is considering a complete streets policy for El Paso,” said Nahum Apodaca with The Medical Center of the Americas Foundation, another member of the coalition.
“We appreciate the leadership and work being done by the city and the various community groups involved to address the walkability and accessibility challenges we face locally.” He added that “working together, we believe we can improve El Paso’s ranking for pedestrian safety.”
The El Paso Complete Streets Coalition includes a wide range of local leaders and passionate community groups with a shared common goal of adopting a complete streets policy.