Sadly, pedestrian crashes remain a significant public safety issue in the USA. Indeed, a recent report out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests pedestrian fatalities rose by 3 percent between 2017 – 2018. On average, 6,200 American pedestrians will die in car crashes each year.
Although governments are taking steps to improve walkability, community organizations are also playing a significant role in improving pedestrian safety standards. Indeed, thanks to the wonders of social media, pedestrian safety advocates have an easier time collaborating and sharing critical info. In this post, we’ll share just a few inspiring ways communities are banding together to make their streets safer for pedestrians.
Four Ways Communities Are Improving Pedestrian Safety
1. Let’s Get Digital: Pedestrian Safety Groups & Social Media
A significant way communities are playing a role in pedestrian safety is by organizing groups online. Almost every major city in the USA currently has a community-run organization dedicated to pedestrian safety issues. For instance, Philadelphia now has the community-supported Feet First Philly. Other cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston also have unique pedestrian-safety groups.
These community organizations often encourage residents to send in questions, complaints, or pictures related to pedestrian safety issues. Many online groups also share statistics from Vision Zero programs or dates for educational events. All of these tactics help keep community members aware and engaged in improving walkability in their communities.
For more details on national pedestrian safety organizations, click on this link put together by Where The Sidewalk Starts.
2. Support For Car-Free Streets Ramps Up After COVID-19
One of the most exciting ideas on these pedestrian safety forums is “car-free days.” Partly inspired by similar movements in Europe, car-free days are exactly what they sound like: select days where cars aren’t allowed on certain roads. People who are in favor of this idea claim it could promote pedestrian safety and attract organic foot-traffic to local businesses.
There are already community-supported groups like PhillyFreeStreets that promote frequent car-free streets. Indeed, Philadelphia has successfully experimented with blocking a portion of North Broad Street to vehicles in recent years. Hopefully, these car-free zones could give pedestrians and cyclists safer travel options, especially considering all of the construction issues springing up in Philly.
Support for car-free streets will likely intensify after COVID-19. As you might already know, most cities have started experimenting with car-free streets to help pedestrians and cyclists practice social distancing. Pedestrian safety advocates hope some of these car-free streets could become permanent features of contemporary urban design. Although it’s still too early to say how far this movement will go, many communities appear to be open to the idea.
3. Pay Attention With A Pace Car Program
Another interesting way residents are promoting pedestrian safety is by taking the “pace car pledge.” Basically, the pace car campaign encourages drivers to obey posted speed limits, yield to pedestrians, and follow all traffic signs. Typically, city governments give people who take the time to fill out the pace car forms a decal to place on their vehicle.
The motivation behind the “pace car campaign” is simple: to encourage more residents to take pride in driver safety. The pace car campaign also encourages younger drivers to take safety issues seriously as they begin learning the rules of the road.
To find out more about how the pace car campaign works, you could take a peek at this official brochure put together by Durham, North Carolina.
4. Yard Signs: They’re Not Just For Politicians!
Another way communities are improving pedestrian safety is by placing yard signs in front of their homes. No, we’re not talking about political yard signs; we’re talking about signs with to-the-point road safety messages! As you could imagine, most of these signs are prominent near school zones or near homes with young children.
Today, one of the most popular yard sign campaigns remains “Keep Kids Alive Drive 25.” Amazingly, Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 found that most drivers reduce their speed between 13 – 16 percent on roads that have these signs.
If you’re interested in putting up safety signs in front of your home, you could check with your local city government to see if they have any official programs. You could also find out more about Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 on this official website.
Keep In Touch With Your Local Pedestrian Safety Groups
Although pedestrian fatalities are increasing throughout the USA, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you could do to reverse this trend. As you could see above, communities are coming up with innovative ways to enhance pedestrian safety. Although governments need to continue funding studies and infrastructure projects, communities will play a significant role in protecting pedestrians.
To find out more ways you could support pedestrian safety in your community, be sure to take a peek at this guide put together by the Federal Highway Administration.