I read with great sadness that a 44-year old mother of two was run over and killed as she jogged early Sunday morning, Aug. 19 in St. James, MO.
Who knows what we could have done differently to have averted this tragedy?
There are more motor vehicles on our roads than ever before, and there are unprecedented numbers of walkers, joggers, and cyclists on the roads as well. Common sense tells us that we need to attend to these changes or conflicts, accidents, and tragedies will result.
Trailnet recently attended a meeting of the statewide Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. We were invited to attend by a MoDOT staffer who agrees with us that a statewide “road safety for all” campaign – of the magnitude of ongoing campaigns around work zones, seat belts, and driving sober – can and will save lives. She lobbied as hard as we did.
In pretty short order we were shut down. This statewide committee would have us believe walkers, joggers, and cyclists are urban road users. And yet, Sunday’s accident happened in rural St. James.
It is actions like this that keep our state from moving forward. Actions like this are based on assumptions that have been wrong for decades. Assumptions like cyclists don’t ride on both rural and urban roads as they pass through communities of all sizes. Assumptions like all joggers and walkers live in the city. Assumptions like operating a motor vehicle is the only lawful way to use the road.
Obesity is at an all-time high in Missouri. Earlier this month, analysis released by the Trust for American Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released revealed that Missouri is now one of only 12 states that have an adult obesity rate over 30%. Trailnet works hard to affect the built environment, policy, advocacy, education, and programming so that our state can accommodate and encourage physical activity.
We work to get people off their couches and out of their houses to engage in whatever activities work for them. We recognize this includes putting active people on our roads and we recognize awareness is going to be key to keeping everyone who uses the road safe.
Trailnet hopes that the future of Missouri includes a department of transportation that promises to do whatever it takes to make its roads a safe and respectful environment for everyone who uses them. They can start by committing to a broad safe roads campaign. Aren’t our lives worth that?
Ann Rivers Mack