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Prioritizing transportation safety in 2022 

While Cape Cod has seen a downward trend in traffic fatalities over the past decade, 2021 was an unusually high year for such occurrences – 19 traffic fatalities were reported, up from an average of 13-14 in prior years. 

Both the state and the region share a goal of Vision Zero – no traffic fatalities are acceptable. While reductions are positive indicators, there is still much work to be done. The region, and state overall, has shown good trends in terms of crashes, but bicycle and pedestrian crashes have been challenging to tackle.  

Safety is a priority  

Safety is a priority that drives which studies the Cape Cod Commission undertakes and how they are carried out. Each year, staff reviews safety issues in the region and identifies safety projects that will help advance solutions. Objective review of crash data is used to identify locations for Road Safety Audits, a formal review of a problematic intersection or corridor that results in a range of solutions for implementation. Staff also perform safety studies that look at more systemic issues with crashes at interchanges. Safety studies conducted over the last ten years are available at 

Safety also drives the solutions that are identified as part of corridor studies and planning studies. These studies evaluate the comparative safety benefits of different alternatives, like a traffic signal or a roundabout, with the recommended alternatives being ones that improve the safety of all roadway users. 

The Commission sets a vision for transportation safety through a series of regional plans, prioritizes safety in the regulatory review process, and works with a wide variety of partners to identify safety issues, develop solutions, pursue funding opportunities, and implement improvement projects. 

The Commission also supports towns in the development and adoption of Complete Streets policies. These polices commit the towns to considering the needs of all road users in roadway design and improvement projects. This policy does not necessitate a particular design or type of treatment, but requires evaluation of options best suited to meet the safety needs of everyone using the roadway which, in many cases, includes pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Working proactively to address risk 

While it is important it identify and address the highest crash locations in the region, it is also important to proactively improve locations that present risk based on their current configuration. For example, four-lane undivided roadways have higher probability of a serious or fatal crash than a comparable roadway with a median. The Route 6 Scenic Highway in Bourne is an example of this safety hazard that, unfortunately, has resulted in a number of serious crashes over the years.  

The Cape Cod Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a collaboration of local, regional, state, and federal officials that review, direct, and vote on aspects and products of the transportation planning process, has prioritized funding to improve this section of roadway, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is currently working on a median concept. Another example is high-volume, high-speed roadways with significant pedestrian demand and no sidewalks. The MPO has prioritized funding for a number of sections of Route 28 that meet those criteria, and MassDOT and the towns are in the process of designing these projects. 

Addressing bicycle and pedestrian safety  

Bicyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the transportation network, so special attention must be paid to their safety. Installation of proven safety measures like sidewalks and roundabouts improves safety for all road users. Sidewalks, for example, not only improve pedestrians’ separation from vehicles, they also reduce vehicle speeds.  

To learn more about the Cape Cod Commission’s transportation program, please visit 


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