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Mayor announces pedestrian-safety task force

A recent spike in pedestrian deaths has Columbia city leaders concerned. Mayor Bob McDavid announced a pedestrian-safety task force Friday at City Hall to investigate the problem.

“How does Columbia’s accident rate compare with national trends? Do the accidents share a theme? How does Columbia compare with comparable university towns?,” said McDavid.

Four pedestrians in the last six months have been hit and killed by cars. Officials said it’s a dramatic increase over previous years. City leaders said one reason for the increase is that more people are ditching the car in favor of walking to their destination. Councilman Ian Thomas is a co-chair of the task force. He said the group will tackle multiple issues.

“We have to look at our existing laws and enforcement of those laws. We have to look at education as a component to influence behavior and we have to look at engineering — whether the environment is designed in a way that makes these incidents more likely than they should be,” said Thomas.

The task force will consist of around 15 members. It will take about six to 12 months to come up with the report of recommendations. City leaders are set to formally establish the task force at the May 18 council meeting.

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