It may seem superfluous to say that the first step toward pedestrian and bicyclist safety is awareness. However, roadways are often created with the goal of moving vehicular traffic smoothly and efficiently, and may lack sidewalks, walkways, and adequate shoulder space. In fact, Transportation for
America’s Dangerous by Design report on pedestrian fatalities found that more than half of the pedestrians killed between 2000 and 2009 died on principal or minor arterials, wide, straight roads, which are often hostile to pedestrians. It therefore bears repeating, that the first and most crucial step toward pedestrian and bicyclist safety is being aware of non-motorist needs and ensuring that they are factored into street design and engineering.
On the Streets
An advocacy group in Austin works to make East Austin more pedestrian friendly with a Walkability Assessment program. Read the full story here.
It can be difficult to integrate pedestrian travel allowances on roads built primarily with cars in mind. As cities identify the importance of streets for all, new roads should be constructed with awareness of pedestrian and bicyclist needs as part of the design.
However, hope is not lost for existing streets. There are many solutions that can be integrated to facilitate roadways that are friendly to motorists and non-motorists alike.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) in a study on Reducing Childhood Pedestrian Injuries identifies some of these solutions such as establishing traffic signals in hazardous areas, implementing traffic calming measures such as street narrowing or speed humps, and increasing the walk time of pedestrian signals to allow enough time for children to safely cross. Other useful ideas include reducing lanes on arterial roads while adding walkways or bike lanes, establishing pedestrian malls, and improving lighting on neighborhood streets.
Fake bike lanes spray painted on Dallas streets try making a statement but are confusing drivers and may be dangerous. See video footage here.
The Traffic Calming Toolbox
Traffic Logix prides itself on being a one stop provider for all traffic calming needs. Several of the company’s products can help create safer, smarter streets for bicyclists and pedestrians. The 2-sided
Did you Know?
CycleLane curbing offers a valuable tool for traffic engineers looking to create more complete streets. The innovative curbing solution has a low profile side, which guides bicyclists back into bike lanes while the high profile side prevents vehicle traffic from entering non-vehicle lanes. The curbing units can be used along with safe-hit posts and/or painted buffer areas to further increase visibility for motorists. They can be useful on roadways as well as in parks, along trails, and anywhere that bicyclists ride.
See a map showing the fatalities from 2000 to 2009 within 60 miles of where you live. View the interactive map here.
The SuperFlex curbing units can also be a useful tool in designing street narrowing or other curb-focused solutions to make existing roadways safer. Vehicle-focused solutions such as speed humps, speed cushions (shown to the right), and radar feedback signs slow traffic down so that drivers are more aware of their surroundings and more likely to take notice of non-motorists. These devices also ensure that a driver has enough time to stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian.
Developing a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan
Cities across the country that were identified as having the highest risk of pedestrian fatalities were chosen as focus cities in a FHWA program working to reduce pedestrian deaths. States with focus cities were included as focus states. Services offered include free technical assistance, webinars, training, and assistance in developing a Pedestrian Safety Plan. Non-focus cities and states can receive these services for a cost. The guide to developing a plan is a valuable resource for improved safety and is available on the FHWA website. An article on the progress made so far by focus cities was published by Public Works magazine and is available online here. The program has so far shown promising results.