Wiki Wednesday: “Shovel-Ready” Pedestrian Safety Plans?

StreetsWiki author Andy Hamilton files this entry on an idea from our very own Federal Highway Administration: the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

crosswalk.jpgThe concept includes a step by step methodology to identify and correct pedestrian safety hazards, as well as to plan a more walkable community from the ground up. FHWA developed a how-to guide, and contracted with pedestrian design experts to provide 2-day or 3-day trainings to state and local transportation departments around the country. This federal effort was initiated when it was recognized that most traffic engineers receive inadequate professional training to effectively address pedestrian safety concerns.

From 2005 to 2007, FHWA conducted 77 trainings in the 14 states that ranked highest in pedestrian crashes. In some states, the trainings resulted in almost immediate pedestrian safety improvement projects or evaluation efforts.

Implementing a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is not usually a high priority for traffic engineering departments, and require consistent advocacy from neighborhood organizations or elected officials.

Here’s something to chew on. These trainings began more than three years ago and have probably led to the creation of some actual safety plans, which can get off the ground quickly. Shouldn’t a federal stimulus package fully fund all of these projects before giving highway-addled states like Texas a dime for anything else?

  • To be fair to Texas, it’s the State DOT that’s brain-dead. Some of us Texas cities are trying to do better despite them – here in Fort Worth we’ve got a second rail line under planning and are putting together a modern streetcar plan as well, plus encouraging infill. Our Near Southside neighborhood even won the Driehaus Award for its new form-based code.

    It’s unfortunate that TxDOT is so clueless. In the middle of our urban renaissance they massacred a small street in the Near Southside by turning it into a massive six-to-eight-lane highway smack dab through the district. The city’s having to go back with its own money to take the street back to a more urban boulevard design.

  • I hope that Canada can implement a more stringent pedestrian safety plan. We get rain, snow, sleet, etc … which can make for some very slippery and unsafe conditions, sometimes going for a run is just out of the question it’s so dangerous.

    There unfortunately is no simple solution here. It is far too expensive to have city wide plows come through and clear, sand and salt the sidewalks. But residents are also not diligent enough in clearing the snow off the sidewalk in front of their homes.

    In the end many people end up walking along the road, since the sidewalks are to hazardous to manoeuvre.

  • Carice

    The thing that is interesting to me about this article is the idea of professional continuing education for transportation planners as a force for change. Principles of progressive transportation policy which incorporates planning for pedestrians and bicycles as well as cars is almost taken for granted among the streetsblog community, but I’m afraid there are many many planners who were taught mainly car- safety standards and how to use the federal (car-centric) guidelines. I had a disheartening exchange with a senior planner after a public meeting where the transportation cycling public was trying to get a bike lane incorporated in a new bridge design. The planners were so excited that they were going to be able to widen the existing car lanes to close to the federal guidelines, that they wouldn’t even consider keeping the lanes the same and using the extra space for bicycles. No arguments about how wider lanes increase speeding, or the need to separate pedestrians and transportation cyclists would sway him from “the government says that this is the safe lane width”. I’d be very interested in finding out if safe streets lobbying organizations could spend money directly on planner education to encourage more enlightened design.

  • Lorimer

    The system of crosswalks is a total failure. A pedestrian should never be placed at an intersection were vehicles are turning in from another street. All crosswalks that are placed at an intersection were vehicles are turning in from another street, should be removed to at least 150 ft. inside the street. Don?t care about the minutes it will consume for motorists, care about the many years of life of innocent people which is taken away every our. The most dangerous place on the road, is, a crosswalk were vehicles are turning in from an other street.

  • J. Mork

    Lorimer. Motorists? I’m concerned about the time it will consume for pedestrians.

    Say I’m walking from 34th St. and 12th Ave. to 34th St. and 1st Ave. Google Maps says this is 1.9 miles. There are 12 kkj52
    intersections on the way (by my count). You’re suggesting a 300 ft. diversion for pedestrians at each intersection. That comes out to another 2/3 mile added to the crosstown journey.


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