A community’s ability to track and measure travel behavior, safety, the condition of its infrastructure and the impact of its projects is critical for developing performance-based programs. Only having these tools at its disposal — and the staff support to do the leg-work — will enable a community to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Strategies in this section range from committing staff resources to pedestrian issues to using evaluation tools to better understand existing conditions, crash data, and pedestrian volumes.
Coordinators provide a vision and voice for active transportation in a community and perform a variety of roles. Establishing a part-time or possibly full-time pedestrian coordinator position (depending on the size of your community) to devote ongoing attention specifically to pedestrian issues can help build and maintain momentum behind your activities and tie them all together under one pedestrian program.
- Charlotte, NC, demonstrates its commitment to pedestrian safety by employing two pedestrian coordinators to manage its Pedestrian Program and collaborate with the Planning and Design Division.
- Following one of the key recommendations of their Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, Wilsonville, OR, hired a full-time coordinator to oversee implementation of the plan and make sure pedestrian needs are met in all projects.
- Minneapolis, MN, has staff dedicated to pedestrian issues in the Public Works Department and the Minneapolis Public School System.
Any community can find US Census estimates for local mode share, but a count program is needed to truly understand local travel patterns and monitor trends. A count program can help “make the case” for more/enhanced walking amenities and can help prioritize improvements. Reliable count data is also necessary for putting crash data in context. Counts can be collected manually or through the use of automatic counters.
- Guidebook on Pedestrian and Bicycle Data Collection
- National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project (NBPDP)
- Arlington County, VA, manages a network of permanent and portable automatic continuous pedestrian and bicycle counters. An online, map-based display of the counters and data can be found at the County’s WalkArlington dashboard. Arlington also enlists a team of volunteers to participate once a year in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project (NBPDP).
- Evanston, IL, conducts counts at 45 locations per year, once a month during warm-weather months. This count is done to determine whether school crossing guards need to be redistributed across the city.
- Seattle, WA, uses the NBPDP methodology to collect data at nearly 50 locations citywide multiple times per year. SDOT is now using automatic counters to collect continuous volume data at four multi-use path locations. These data provide insight into seasonal and daily pedestrian patterns and are used to support planning, project design, and other programmatic work.
Analysis of Safety Trends
Before a city or town can begin developing programs to improve pedestrian safety, it is necessary to examine recent and long-term trends to understand the scope of the problem. Knowing how many pedestrian crashes were reported – and how many injuries and fatalities resulted from those crashes – is essential when planning for pedestrian safety. Understanding common crash types and locations can help communities determine the best strategies for improving the safety of pedestrians. Information should be shared across departments to best utilize community-wide resources, and high level findings can be shared with the public to reinforce the importance of programs that promote both walking and safety.
- Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists
- How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan guide (see Chapter 4)
- Boulder, CO’s Safe Streets Boulder Report is produced by the Transportation Division, in conjunction with the Boulder Police Department and Municipal Court.
- An analysis in San Francisco, CA, found that 6 percent of the city’s street miles represent 60 percent of severe and fatal injuries. These locations are called High Injury Corridors.
- As a part of a federally funded initiative to improve pedestrian safety within Chicago, IL, the Chicago Department of Transportation used a comprehensive analysis of pedestrian crashes to inform the development of the city’s pedestrian plan, new engineering treatments, and ongoing traffic safety education efforts.
Inventories of Infrastructure
A complete network that includes continuous, well maintained accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, signals, and curb ramps is one of the most important elements in making a community accessible to pedestrians of all abilities. Understanding the location and condition of existing pedestrian facilities can help identify gaps and prioritize areas for improvement.
- ADA Compliance At Transportation Agencies: A Review Of Practices
- FHWA’s Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety
- Boulder, CO, keeps an easy-to-read description of its Missing Sidewalk Links Program on the city website. Web-users are able to view a prioritized list of sidewalk projects and learn how these projects are funded.
- Lee’s Summit, MO’s, sidewalk and curb ramp inventory report includes project prioritization criteria.
- Walk Friendly Communities like Rochester, MN, and Corvallis, OR, review subareas of the city on an annual basis to identify sidewalk sections and curb ramps that need improvement.
Evaluation of the pedestrian environment plays a crucial role in problem identification and countermeasure selection. It’s also this only way to know if your projects and programs are achieving the intended results. To truly understand local pedestrian needs and safety issues, a community should utilize effective evaluation strategies. Sharing findings with the public highlights successes and make the case for future investment.
- Decatur, GA, completed a rapid Health Impact Assessment on the city’s transportation plan, which introduced the community and politicians to the positive impacts of multi-modal transportation.
- In Boulder, CO, the Living Lab allows the city to test new street designs intended to enhance travel safety and is part of the Transportation Master Plan.
- Somerville, MA, partners with local organizations, the school district, advocacy groups, and Massachusetts DOT to do annual walk and bike audits to review common walking routes, evaluate crossing guard placement, and assess structural and environmental needs for improved walk and bike safety. The audits result in walking maps that are printed in four different languages.