In an extraordinarily sad irony, the engineer in charge of Columbus, Ohio's complete streets program has been gravely injured in a car crash. His 21-year-old intern was killed.
The pair were walking in downtown Columbus Friday when, according to witnesses, Terrance Trent, 61, ran a red light and smashed his pickup truck into a school bus carrying special needs students. That bus was forced onto the sidewalk, where the city's chief mobility engineer, Bill Lewis, and his intern, Ohio State student Stephanie Fibelkorn, were standing, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Lewis was listed in serious condition Saturday. It was the last day of Fibelkorn's four-month internship with the city. She was studying to be a traffic engineer. None of the schoolchildren were injured, but the bus driver was hospitalized.
Columbus' regional planning agency adopted a complete streets policy in 2010. Lewis leads the planning and execution of elements of the policy at the city level, including bike and pedestrian safety, traffic calming, and community mobility planning.
The carnage happened shortly after state lawmakers voted to essentially outlaw red light cameras, which had been shown to reduce crash rates by 22 percent at intersections. Apparently, Ohioans are more willing to tolerate tragedy than traffic tickets.
This week we’re joined by Bob Searns to talk about his new book and grand ideas for walking trails that circle whole regions and more local routes that make up a new mode of green infrastructure in cities.