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The answer is a resounding no, although the reasons why and the solutions needed to improve safety for drivers, transit workers, riders and pedestrians are less clear.
Fatal car crashes were up last year across the state, and Wayne County roads are no safer than other places, with the county’s share of crashes and fatal crashes closely aligning with our share of the state’s population. The county was less safe, however, for cyclists and pedestrians than other parts of the state. Wayne County makes up about 18% of the state’s population but accounts for 23% of the crashes involving bicycles and cars and 31% of the crashes involving pedestrians and cars.
The city has invested in making roads safer by installing bike lanes and speed humps and even putting roads on a “diet” by shrinking the number of lanes to slow cars down. But it’s all a far cry from the city’s stated goal of “eliminating fatal and serious injury crashes” across the region by 2050.
Safety is one of the most common transit concerns raised by Detroiters. Here at Outlier, we’ll be spending the next year reporting on this and other needs for a thriving transportation system that lets all Detroiters get where they need to go. Read more here.
Our Documenters on the Bus team felt safe riding the bus for the most part, but not so much while they were waiting for it. Several Documenters described how they or riders they interviewed felt unsafe at stops, particularly on less traveled routes, or at the Rosa Parks Transit Center downtown.
DDOT drivers have also raised concerns about their safety before, during and since the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 90% of Detroit’s bus stops are without shelters, making riders vulnerable to the weather and less visible to cars. Documenter Carolyn Pugh, for example, was left waiting at an eastbound bus stop at Redford Plaza “in a parking lot in front of a large dumpster.”
Some Detroiters have taken matters into their own hands, building bus shelters at their stops or others around the city. DDOT said last year they won’t prioritize shelters until it finishes a comprehensive “reimagining” process.
Safety is of particular concern for riders with disabilities who have complained of being stranded or even dropped off in the wrong place by DDOT paratransit contractors. DDOT may be cutting paratransit services by 70% as soon as Jan. 1, leaving many Detroiters without essential transportation.
Walking or biking around the city has its hazards, too. The Michigan Department of Transportation is not maintaining, or has failed to build, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure like bridges, crosswalks and well-maintained sidewalks and ramps — all of which would increase safety for everyone using the roadways.
Along with our media partners, throughout 2023, we’ll report on the safety concerns that come with getting around the city, who’s responsible for failures and improvements and what can be done to make things safer. Tell us what transportation issues you want us to report on by filling out this form.