Urban Forests Make Safer Streets

By Jane Raffaldi, New York Department of Environmental Conservation

As leaves change this time of year, it’s obvious that urban trees make our communities more beautiful, but did you know they also make our neighborhood streets safer? Streets lined with trees tend to encourage slower driving and statistically have less accidents than those without. And it’s not just speeds that are lowered by their presence – they also contribute to lower stress levels in drivers, leading to less road rage.

How does a simple stretch of trees have such a magical impact? According to the Federal Highway Administration, the presence of tree canopy along a street provides a narrowing speed control measure by creating a “psycho-perceptive sense of enclosure” that discourages speeding.

When drivers feel like they’re in a smaller, closed space – like a tunnel or a canopied street – they drive slower than when driving through open areas. Additionally, the presence of greenery naturally calms us whether we are consciously looking at it or not.

You probably already knew the list of benefits urban trees actively provide our communities is long – but the list of their passive benefits continues to grow as well! So whether you’re out and about browsing fall foliage or trick-or-treating with the family this October, know that your community trees are helping to make your stroll safer (and your air cleaner, and your streets cooler, and your sidewalks drier).

This post is part of the NMSFA Healthy Trees Healthy Lives Campaign. Please share on social media and with partners with the hashtag #healthytreeshealthylives.

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