Non-Motorized User Safety
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Table of Contents
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Approximately 60 percent of all road miles in the U.S. are non-Interstate, rural roads maintained and operated by local agencies, such as towns, counties, and Tribal governments.(1) Non-motorized modes of travel can be expected along these roads. Non-motorized transportation is primarily comprised of biking, walking, equestrian, and horse-drawn vehicles but may also include other non-powered transportation devices.
This guide focuses on pedestrian and cyclist safety on rural roadways. Cyclists must travel in the same direction as other vehicular traffic, while pedestrians should typically walk against traffic.
Many non-motorized travelers face daily challenges and safety concerns when utilizing the same roadway as motorized travelers, making the non-motorized users especially vulnerable when a crash occurs. While this may be particularly evident within small communities situated along rural highways, the needs of non-motorized users on undeveloped portions of rural highways may not be clearly understood. Recognizing and addressing non-motorized challenges and safety on local rural roads is an important step in improving safety for all road users.
The purpose of this guide is to assist local rural road practitioners in making effective use of current practices and resources addressing non-motorized mobility and safety, thereby creating a more accommodating and viable transportation system for all road users. Local practitioners may be road supervisors, street superintendents, engineers, planners, local officials, law enforcement officers, or others who are responsible for the rural road transportation network. While this document will provide guidance on addressing non-motorized safety, other resources—many of which are referenced in this document—may need to be consulted to address the varying and often unique safety issues affecting non-motorized users on rural roads. The specific objectives of this guide are as follows:
This document focuses on low-volume local rural roadways (also known as rural highways) that typically pass through undeveloped or agricultural land. However, such roadways may be dotted with small commercial areas, towns, or other small activity centers. In this guide, these areas will be referred to as "rural villages." Neighborhood streets are not the focus of the document.
Understanding the Non-Motorized User Safety Issue
Identifying potential factors affecting the safety of non-motorized users on rural roadways is important to help understand non-motorized roadway users' risk. In 2009, more than 1,500 persons were killed in crashes involving a motororized and non-motorized user on rural roads in the U.S., with nearly one-quarter (368) of those occurring on local rural roads. Pedestrians were killed in approximately 83 percent (1,252) of all rural crashes involving a non-motorized user, and bicyclists were killed in approximately 14 percent (204) of these crashes. In the study Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Types of the Early 1990's , it is shown that, while crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists that result in a fatality are typically reported, less serious crashes are more frequent and underreported.(2)
Rural pedestrian crashes are nearly twice as likely to result in a fatality and rural bicycle crashes are three times as likely to result in a fatality compared to urban crashes. (From UNC Highway Safety Research Center, 2006)
Occupants of other types of non-motorized transport devices, such as persons on personal conveyances—including ridden animals and horse-drawn vehicles (skaters, skateboarders, scooters, and segways are also included in this category)—were killed in approximately three percent of the rural crashes involving a non-motorized user.(3) While constituting a relatively small percentage nationally, these crashes are likely to have regional significance, particularly in rural communities where the use of horse-drawn vehicles are more ordinary. Ohio, for example, is home to the country's largest Amish population, most of whom do not use automobiles. Crash data from 1990-1997 revealed an average of 64 horse-drawn vehicle crashes in the State annually, approximately one percent of which resulted in a fatality.(4) Horseback-riding may also be a common activity along rural roadways. Despite the relatively low frequency of equestrian and horse-drawn vehicle crashes, the safety of these non-motorized roadway users should not be overlooked, and measures to address the most significant causal factors should be considered.
Factors Affecting Crash Risk
There are a number of factors impacting the safety of non-motorized roadway users in rural areas. According to Factors Contributing to Pedestrian and Bicycle Crashes on Rural Highways, rural pedestrian crashes are nearly twice as likely to result in a fatality and rural bicycle crashes are three times as likely to result in a fatality as urban crashes of like type.(5) Two-lane roads comprise the majority of rural roads, exhibit the greatest number of rural bicycle and pedestrian crashes, and have the highest overall crash frequency. The analysis of rural non-motorized crashes (see Figure 1) performed during the Hunter et al study indicates common conditions where crashes involving a motorized vehicle and a pedestrian or a cyclist on rural roads may occur include the following:
Figure 1. Common Conditions for Vehicle-Pedestrian and Vehicle-Cyclist Crashes on Rural Roads.(6)
There is a significant difference between pedestrian and bicycle crashes by day versus night. A majority of rural pedestrian crashes occurred during nighttime hours (59 percent), while, the majority of rural bicycle crashes occurred during daytime hours (66 percent).
Both rural bicycle and pedestrian crashes were significantly more common at non-intersection locations. The study revealed that the most common crash type involving pedestrians on rural roads was "walking along the roadway," which represented 26 percent of the total pedestrian crashes.(6) The most common rural crash types for bicyclists generally occurred at non-intersection locations and were almost evenly split between "motorist overtaking bicyclist," which accounted for approximately 24 percent of the crashes, and "bicyclist turn/merge into path of motorist," which accounted for approximately 22 percent of the crashes.
Relatively high vehicle speeds are also a contributing factor to rural bicycle and pedestrian crashes and fatalities. More than half of all rural pedestrian and bicycle crashes occur on roads with a posted speed limit of 50 mph or greater. Nearly half of rural pedestrian and bicycle fatalities occur with vehicle speeds between 41 and 60 mph. As shown in Figure 2, the probability of a pedestrian fatality as a result of a collision with a vehicle increases from 5 percent to 85 percent as vehicle speed increases from 20 mph to 40 mph. In short, rural crashes are more likely to result in fatalities for non-motorized users than urban crashes because speed is a major contributing factor.
Figure 2. Pedestrian Fatality Rate Based on Speed of Vehicle.(7)
Speed also affects a driver's ability to identify and react to a potential conflict. The stopping distance is the total distance it takes for a driver to identify and react to a safety hazard in the vehicle path—the reaction distance—and then bring the vehicle to a complete stop—the braking distance. As shown in Figure 3, as a vehicle's speed increases, the distance required for it to stop also increases. Furthermore, it is paramount that motorized and non-motorized users understand each other's intent. For instance, motorized vehicles have turn signals and brake lights to help drivers communicate what they intend to do, but non-motorized forms of transportation may present challenges for users to communicate with others. Communicating and understanding that intent is especially challenging at faster speeds.
Figure 3. Stopping Distance for Vehicles.
In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, it was shown that the majority of rural bicycle and pedestrian crashes occurred on roads with unpaved shoulders, accounting for 71 percent of pedestrian crashes and 80 percent of bicycle crashes.(8) Roadways with unpaved shoulders are a significant concern in rural contexts. Rural roads without shoulders lack separation between motorized and non-motorized users. Pavement edge drop-offs can also be problematic, especially for cyclists, since they can cause a cyclist veering off the roadway to lose control and crash. Additionally, space constraints along rural roadways can be caused by exposed roadside hazards and poor pavement conditions.
Behavior plays a major role in non-motorized crashes. It is critical to understand how the roadway environment and roadway user characteristics interact within the context of the surrounding community, especially as land use or travel habits and patterns change over time. The following behavioral factors affect the safety of non-motorized users:
Many crashes involving non-motorized users relate to them sharing the same space along the roadway with motor vehicle traffic. Paved shoulders provide separated space for motorized and non-motorized users along the roadway and have been shown to be an effective countermeasure in reducing all crash types.
Local rural roads may pass through a variety of settings ranging from rural undeveloped areas to rural villages, small towns, or largely isolated subdivision developments. These land use patterns can have a significant impact on non-motorized safety. The type of development within rural communities significantly contributes to non-motorized crashes and their severity on rural roads.(10) For example, rural communities undergoing development, located near other developed areas, or experiencing demographic shifts should consider whether or not the roadway characteristics are compatible with the current or future users, including non-motorized transportation.
Applying a Systemic Approach
The challenge in addressing non-motorized safety in rural areas is that crashes involving non-motorized road users tend to be widely dispersed . The significant number of lane-miles and the dispersed nature of crashes make it difficult to target specific locations for assessment and improvement. Therefore, applying a systemic approach to addressing the safety of non-motorized users is beneficial to proactively address widespread safety issues and cost-effectively minimize crash potential. Rather than focus on specific crash locations, a systemic approach targets common risk factors in crashes throughout the roadway network. A systemic improvement is one that is widely implemented based on high-risk roadway features that are correlated with particular crash types rather than crash frequency. The systemic problem identification entails a system-wide crash analysis targeting specific crash characteristics at the system level. For example, an evaluation of rural crash data may reveal crashes involving cyclists riding against traffic and motorized traffic exiting driveways on a corridor. Rather than target the specific locations where crashes occurred, the systemic approach identifies the risk factors associated with all of the crashes along the corridor and addresses the risk on a corridor basis (at locations that already experienced crashes and those with similar charateristics having the potential for similar crashes).
This guide is intended to provide information, tools, and resources that can assist the local practitioner in addressing non-motorized mobility and safety on local rural roads. The material presented will help the local practitioner with understanding common conditions and behaviors, assessing these conditions and behaviors, implementing appropriate countermeasures, and evaluating the effectiveness of these countermeasures. Each local area is unique, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to addressing and improving non-motorized roadway safety. This document presents a general process that can be followed to identify potential problem areas and develop targeted strategies. The four-step process is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. The Four-Step Process for Addressing Non-Motorized Issues.
The guide is organized into four sections that follow the four-step process.
Section 1 introduces the types of data that can be used to define and understand conditions and behaviors affecting non-motorized safety. Also discussed is the subject of engaging stakeholders, such as local law enforcement and regional, county, or local engineering staff, who can provide firsthand knowledge of the area and of existing safety issues.
Section 2 discusses how to assess the factors affecting non-motorized safety. Key points covered in this section include conducting an analysis of data and conducting a field assessment, as well as prioritizing non-motorized users' safety concerns.
Section 3 explores the selection and implementation of countermeasures that consider the 4 Es of safety (education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency services). It outlines considerations in selecting the appropriate countermeasures and tools to assist with the selection. Examples that illustrate how local agencies may address non-motorized transportation safety are also presented.
Section 4 includes methods to follow-up on the implementation of countermeasures and evaluate their effectiveness. The evaluation considers methods such as obtaining feedback from stakeholders and conducting before-and-after studies.
Section 5 provides a summary of the outlined process to improve non-motorized transportation safety.
Appendix A presents potential countermeasures that can be used to address non-motorized safety issues including roadway, crossing, and speeding problems. Appendix B includes Web links to publications that provide detailed information on identifying safety issues and selecting appropriate countermeasures.
Practitioners can draw on a variety of sources to assess the safety of non-motorized road users. These sources can be formal, such as crash or citation data collected by local law enforcement, or informal, such as a conversation with someone over a cup of coffee. Practitioners should use the highest quality data that are available but understand that formal data describing non-motorized road user problems may be a challenge to obtain. Engaging a group of stakeholders from all four disciplines (engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency services) can help to both identify the problems and facilitate the sharing of ideas in order to reach consensus and garner support for implementing effective strategies and measures.
Local practicioners should consult their State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), which can provide a comprehensive framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. An SHSP is a data-driven, comprehensive, coordinated safety plan that provides a framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads within a State. SHSPs are developed by the State Department of Transportation (DOT) in a cooperative process with local, State, and Federal input, as well as that from other relevant safety stakeholders. The plan establishes statewide goals, objectives, and key safety emphasis areas that integrate the four E's—engineering, education, enforcement and emergency services. Very often, a State's SHSP will include local or rural roads as an emphasis area for safety improvements. Local practitioners may consult the State's SHSP to determine whether there are emphasis areas, data, or other programs that provide opportunities for coordination to address non-motorized roadway user safety.
Other methods that a local practitioner may investigate when addressing non-motorized safety within the local agency include the following:
Leveraging opportunities through existing projects may include implementing non-motorized user safety measures as part of resurfacing, maintenance, or other programmed projects. This may also include projects initiated to address the safety of other users. Data, in particular crash data involving non-motorized users, can also initiate a process to address non-motorized safety. Local agencies may also consult the State DOT, Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), or Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) for information and assistance in initiating efforts to improve non-motorized safety.
Quality data is the foundation for good decisions. Data obtained through existing sources or collected in the field can facilitate the identification of the factors affecting non-motorized safety. While crash data may be the primary means to identify safety issues involving non-motorized roadway users, other data may be critical to provide an understanding of the causes of safety problems. Data needed for improving non-motorized users safety fall under two categories: quantitative and qualitative.
Detailed crash data provide an excellent source of information to use in understanding the effects of roadway features and roadway user behaviors. Typically, at least three years of crash data are necessary to be able to identify trends; however, since crashes involving non-motorized users tend to be dispersed, a minimum of five years of crash data is recommended. This larger sample size of crash data may increase the likelihood that severe crash locations or crash trends involving non-motorized users will be identified, although the dataset's size and quality may be questionable since roadway and travel patterns may have changed due to modifications in land use patterns and roadway geometry, as well as possible changes in data collection methodology Practitioners should be aware of possible deficiencies in crash data that may result in the inaccurate identification of safety issues. When assembling and analyzing crash data, the following points should be considered:
Data regarding all fatal crashes in the U.S. are maintained in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Local practitioners can query the FARS database to obtain information on fatal crashes involving motorized and non-motorized users.(12) Some local jurisdictions may maintain a crash records database. In many States, the DOT maintains crash records and can assist a local agency with obtaining crash data. A local practitioner can also contact the LTAP or TTAP representative to determine the availability of crash data.
Traffic volume data are useful to assess the potential for conflict with non-motorized users and are helpful in selecting appropriate countermeasures. However, non-motorized user volumes are seldom collected in rural areas. On local roads, the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) may be the only available measure of vehicle traffic volume. Public land and recreational facility managers may have trail counts (pedestrian and bicycle volume counts on trails and shared use paths) but local agencies may have only limited traffic volume data. In situations where non-motorized traffic safety is a concern, counting non-motorized traffic may be useful or necessary to determine the extent of the safety issue. Some examples of non-motorized traffic generators that might be collected include schools, retail stores, recreational trails, entertainment facilities such as fairgrounds, and public transit stops.
Counts should cover peak-period non-motorized traffic at a minimum (which could range from two to four or more hours) and may occur during peak "recreational" hours, such as weekend mornings. The counts should be categorized by adult/child pedestrian, adult/child cyclist, or other non-motorized user when appropriate. Other key data elements include the following:
Figure 5 depicts a two-lane road through a rural village divided into six traffic count zones. A person is assigned to each zone to count pedestrians and cyclists entering, exiting, or crossing the road within the zone in 15-minute intervals for a two-hour period. All six zones extend through the length of the rural village to capture the area of highest pedestrian and bicycle activity. Each zone is between 200 feet and 300 feet in length; that is long enough where one observer can see and accurately record all pedestrian and bicycle activity in the zone. Agencies conducting similar non-motorized user counts may position observers differently based on the following:
Alternatively, automated bicycle/pedestrian counting technologies that perform 24-hour counts can be utilized. An example of summarized counts is shown in Table 1. The data are helpful in assessing volumes of non-motorized traffic and behavioral patterns.
If staff resources are limited, volunteers from stakeholder or community organizations (e.g., pedestrian or biking groups, members of the local chamber of commerce, etc.) can assist in collecting non-motorized traffic volumes. Additional information about conducting traffic counts can be obtained from the Handbook of Simplified Practice for Traffic Studies.(13)
Figure 5. Non-Motorized Traffic Count Locations.
Table 1. Example Non-Motorized Traffic Count Summary Table.
Considering vehicle speeds within the context of the roadway environment may be helpful in determining the risk to non-motorized users. Working with local law enforcement or automated data collection equipment, vehicle speed data can be collected in the field. Additional information about conducting speed studies can be obtained from the Handbook of Simplified Practice for Traffic Studies.(14)
Other data that may be helpful are inventories of specific facilities for non-motorized users: shoulders, paths, trails, greenways/byways, sidewalks, or crossing conditions. Typically, the location, extents, condition, width, operating characteristics, and significant issues affecting non-motorized modes associated with these facilities should be recorded. Knowledge of the location and functionality of these facilities is helpful to fully understand potential problems for non-motorized users.
Quantitative tools provide numeric measures of non-motorized user safety. The Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS) and Pedestrian Level of Service (PLOS) models provide a numeric score and grade of bicycle and pedestrian facilities based on geometrics and other conditions, including lane width, vehicle speed, and traffic volume.(15) The 2010 version of the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) also provides a multimodal level of service (LOS) approach that can be used to quantify the performance of pedestrian and bicycle facilities. These tools can help to evaluate the suitability of a roadway for non-motorized use and can be utilized to assess how different improvements (either individually or cumulatively) will likely affect bicycle and/or pedestrian travel. In conjunction with other information—such as non-motorized trip and crash data—the results can be used to identify potential problem areas.
Some State DOTs have BLOS/PLOS/LOS scores and data maps available, allowing for identification of routes, corridors, and/or spot locations that are in need of further evaluation and improvement. A local agency may wish to contact the State DOT or LTAP/TTAP representative to see if this information is available or may look online or in the HCM for BLOS/PLOS/LOS calculators.(16) One caution is that the models may not yield useful results for roadways with relatively low traffic volumes. For example, the PLOS model may not be useful for roadways ranging from those with an ADT below 5,000 vehicles per day (vpd) and a posted speed limit of 25 mph to those with an ADT below 2,000 vpd and a posted speed limit of 50 mph.
Behaviors of road users may contribute to safety problems. Common behaviors that have been identified as causal factors in crashes involving non-motorized users include the following:
Behavioral data can be assembled from crash or citation data or from field observations. Field assessments, which aid in the evaluation of roadway user behaviors, are discussed in Section 2.1. Citation data may reveal behavioral trends that contribute to problems for non-motorized users.
Field assessments can be used to collect other relevant data directly. A field assessment could be as simple as one person conducting site visits of locations to collect targeted data elements, such as the presence and quality of facilities for non-motorized users or as detailed as teams of reviewers conducting comprehensive reviews with formal checklists.
A cyclist is riding on the shoulder of a rural road against traffic. The roadway only has a paved shoulder on one side of the road. This promotes not only riding against traffic but also walking with traffic; both practices/behaviors are significant contributing factors in crashes.
The location of schools, stores, bus stops, train stations, and other non-motorized trip generators is also important to understand potential route choice for non-motorized users and the safety implications associated with those routes. Awareness of future development and roadway improvements may also lend insight into programmed measures addressing non-motorized mobility and safety.
Successfully addressing non-motorized safety in rural areas requires the involvement and support of a variety of people, examples of whom are provided in Table 2. The following are among the key considerations regarding stakeholders:
Stakeholders can provide valuable insights on the safety concerns that are present along rural roadways affecting non-motorized users. They represent the "eyes on the street" and have a keen knowledge of many of the conditions and behaviors present that affect safety. There is no prescribed size for the stakeholder group. The practitioner will determine which stakeholders are invited to the table based on the issue.
Law enforcement personnel are particularly important stakeholders, as they have firsthand knowledge of conditions and behaviors that may contribute to the crash risk on local rural roads. Law enforcement collect data on violations and crashes that help to identify safety concerns related to non-motorized users. Also, law enforcement personnel will be able to provide information on potential enforcement countermeasures and provide useful input in determining engineering or education strategies.
Additionally, LTAP and TTAP centers, universities, and other research institutions that work on transportation safety issues may also be available to provide assistance.
Bringing the right agencies or individuals together will help foster coordination and collaboration, the sharing of resources , and momentum in making a commitment to improving non-motorized safety. Some of the ways to engage stakeholders include the following:
The continued participation of stakeholders will help guide an approach to find effective treatments that can encompass the 4 E's of safety.
Table 2. Local/Rural Road Non-Motorized Safety Stakeholders.
Data are most beneficial when they can be easily understood by the user. Organizing and presenting data in a clear and concise manner aids in the process to define and understand the factors affecting safety. Summary tables and annotated maps are two effective methods to organize and present data .
Summary tables are a simple way to present data by location, crash data (e.g., crash types, crash severities, pavement conditions, lighting conditions, etc.), and other data (e.g., vehicular traffic volumes and speeds). Tabular crash data, as shown in the example in Table 3, can be simple by showing only the total number of crashes per location, or they can be more detailed (if available), showing the percentage breakdown for each crash attribute. Charts and graphs can also illustrate how various factors contribute to safety concerns.
Annotated maps and crash diagrams present a geographical perspective on the occurrence of crashes and other data within a study area. Annotated maps can range from a simple "push pin" map that identifies crash locations, as shown in Figure 6, to more detailed maps illustrating crash characteristics, anecdotal information from a conversation, and other data. For example, a map or aerial image can be annotated manually or electronically with crashes or other conditions affecting safety; these other conditions may include traffic volume data, speed data, and roadway condition data, such as severe curves and hills, areas of limited sight distance, and the presence of roadway debris or standing water on the roadway. Figure 7 illustrates a roadway condition diagram that a local practitioner can create to display available data. The diagram shows a schematic representation of the corridor of concern and displays pedestrian and bicycle crash information such as location and direction of travel, as well as motorized traffic volume data. Other data can also be displayed on a condition diagram, as needed.
Table 3. Example Summary Table.
Figure 6. Example Regional "Push Pin" Map Showing Non-Motorized Crash Locations.
Maps can also be used to engage stakeholders. Stakeholders can be invited to annotate concerns on a map during a meeting, which can then become part of the information used to assess the conditions facing non-motorized users.
Summary tables, annotated maps, and crash diagrams are useful when identifying trends in location (e.g., crash clusters or the lack of sufficient facilities between key points) and contributing crash factors, and they can help to define the extent of the problem.
However, given the previously mentioned limitations in non-motorized crash data, it may not be possible to readily identify trends. It is important to understand these constraints and realize that a review of crash data alone is generally not sufficient to comprehensively identify and address non-motorized safety concerns.
Figure 7. Condition Diagram Example in a Rural Town.
Assembled non-motorized safety data should be used to define the extent of the problems, and/or the study area, before a more detailed data analysis is conducted. Summary tables, annotated maps, and crash diagrams are useful in identifying not only crash locations but also crash trends and areas of higher risk based on similar roadway and user characteristics to those experiencing crashes. The study area may also be defined by project opportunities, such as including non-motorized safety improvement into scheduled projects (e.g., resurfacing). The study area can exist at three different scales: spot location, corridor, or network. The following information is intended to help readers identify the appropriate study area for a more detailed analysis:
Spot Locations –
A spot location problem exists where there is one location (or several unrelated locations) experiencing safety-related concerns or crashes. Spot locations may include crossings, intersections, curves, or locations of activity, such as schools or markets.
Spot Location Example: A specific trail crossing or a road crossing near an area with high pedestrian and bicycle activity.
A corridor problem exists when multiple locations on a segment of roadway experience safety concerns or crashes. Those safety concerns or crashes may be varied in nature or may include one or more unifying factors.
Corridor Example: A segment of rural road with limited space for non-motorized users.
The network problem exists when similar types of crashes are occurring at multiple locations on different roadway corridors, and the emerging safety concerns appear to be related in nature.
The process of reviewing the data may indicate issues associated with one or more of the study area types. If the issues and common risk factors identified through crashes encompass more than one study area, specific manageable actions or projects may be developed at the appropriate scale to address the most pressing safety concerns in each area. Jurisdictions experiencing similar crash types or issues on a larger scale (i.e., at the corridor or network level) may benefit from systemic improvements.
Network Example: An area with dispersed non-motorized activity. Consider non-motorized crashes on the roadway network in a jurisdiction.
Typically, the detailed analysis consists of two parts: an in-office analysis of data to determine the crash trends and safety issues, and a field assessment to provide a more complete understanding of the data and the factors affecting non-motorized safety.
In-office Data Review
The purpose of the in-office data review is to develop a comprehensive summary of crash types and locations that allow reviewers to identify possible crash trends and study areas for issue identification and possible countermeasure selection and implementation. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) can be used to help facilitate the crash data analysis. PBCAT is a crash-typing software that assists practitioners with analyzing crash data by creating a database containing details about crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists. PBCAT can be used to identify, organize, and analyze crashes by location, type, severity, time of day, prevailing conditions, user age, and other crash-related factors that are helpful in identifying crash trends.
If multiple data sets are available, they can be used to help identify crash trends or common characteristics. For example, if crash and traffic data for non-motorized users are available, then these can be used to determine crash rates. Crash rates are the ratio of non-motorized crash frequency (in crashes per year) to exposure (the number of non-motorized users). Additional information on crash analysis procedures can be found in Road Safety Information Analysis: A Manual for Local Rural Road Owners. (17)
Assessing Conditions in the Field
Available data may not provide a complete picture of conditions and behaviors that affect non-motorized user safety. Crashes may go unreported or reported crashes may be infrequent or scattered. A field assessment should be conducted to investigate crash trends identified in the in-office analysis and identify additional factors that may contribute to crashes involving non-motorized users. Conditions to be reviewed as part of a field visit include the following:
Local practitioners may engage a group of stakeholders to investigate conditions in the field. There are two basic types of field assessments for investigating non-motorized safety: walkability/bikeability assessments and road safety audits.
Walkability and Bikeability Assessments
Walkability and bikeability assessments serve to identify the characteristics and conditions that affect non-motorized mobility and safety. Most assessments can be conducted by a group of local stakeholders with a range of knowledge or experience. The information collected during the assessments can be used as the basis for more in-depth analysis of issues and selection of countermeasures by local practitioners. Materials to conduct walkability and/or bikeability assessments, including checklist forms, are available online.(18),(19) These checklists can be useful in providing guidance on conditions to look for during a field assessment. Published pedestrian and bicycle checklists can be modified for use with other non-motorized transportation.
Road Safety Audits
Road safety audits (RSAs) are a formal examination of an existing facility or future roadway plan/project that is conducted by an independent, experienced, and multidisciplinary team. They are a proven safety tool used to evaluate safety and to identify opportunities for improvement. RSAs involve participants walking or bicycling the study area, observing operational behaviors, talking with those who use the facilities on a regular basis, and developing a more complete understanding of the facility's existing mobility, access, surrounding land use, and operational context. RSAs can result in enhanced safety by allowing participants to carefully consider situations presented to all roadway users under variable conditions, including time of day (daylight vs. darkness), weather (e.g., clear, rain, snow, ice, etc.), peak/non-peak travel, and major events (e.g., sporting events, festivals, etc). Though RSAs consider all road users, an RSA may be initiated to specifically address non-motorized safety or crashes.
The RSA process may be employed on any type of facility and during any stage of the project development process. RSAs may be conducted proactively to identify conditions that present potential safety hazards or reactively to evaluate conditions and identify countermeasures along roadways that have exhibited a significant crash history.
Conducting an RSA usually does not require a large investment of time or money. An RSA typically takes one to three days to conduct, depending on the study area. By gaining a better understanding of the safety implications of roadway and roadside features, RSAs can be used to prioritize locations with safety concerns, helping to identify the best use for funding. Other benefits include encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration beyond the RSA and promoting a better understanding of roadway user needs and safety. RSA resources can be found on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) web site(20), including guidance for conducting pedestrian-(21) and bicycle-oriented RSAs to ensure that the needs of these non-motorized user groups are sufficiently considered in the RSA process.
Prioritizing non-motorized safety concerns will help a local agency in addressing its most pressing safety problems. In general, safety concerns associated with frequent crashes and higher crash severity levels are given greater priority. If reliable crash data are available, prioritization can be based on total crash frequency or crash rate (if non-motorized traffic volume data are available). Locations or crash types with the higher crash frequency or crash rate will have a higher priority.
When reliable crash data are not available, the likely frequency and severity of crashes associated with each safety concern can be qualitatively estimated and used to prioritize locations. Expected crash frequency can be qualitatively estimated on the basis of exposure (i.e., the number of non-motorized users that would likely be exposed to the identified safety issue) and probability (i.e., the likelihood that a crash would result from the identified safety issue). Expected crash severity can be qualitatively estimated on the basis of factors, such as anticipated motor vehicle speeds.
These two risk elements (frequency and severity) are then correlated to obtain a qualitative risk assessment ranging from lowest to highest, as shown in Table 4, which can assist in prioritization of non-motorized safety concerns. For example, potential crash severity can be related to potential crash frequency as presented in Figure 2. A similar categorization can be considered for crash frequency correlated with non-motorized traffic volumes.
Table 4. Prioritization Matrix.
This qualitative assessment should be conducted by individuals who are familiar with the factors that affect crash frequency and severity. Local agencies should consult an engineer or other transportation professional when considering safety improvements. The State DOT and the LTAP or TTAP can provide assistance when assessing the risk of non-motorized users.
Selecting the appropriate countermeasures to address non-motorized safety on rural roads can be a challenge. Countermeasures should address specific infrastructure and behavioral safety concerns identified through an analysis of data, information obtained through field assessments, and stakeholder input. If needed, assistance on effective countermeasure selection may be obtained from State DOTs or by contacting the appropriate LTAP Center.
Listed below are some important considerations when selecting countermeasures:
Some examples of countermeasures for addressing non-motorized safety on local rural roads are presented for all 4 E's.
Engineering measures to improve non-motorized safety on local rural roads are designed to perform one of the following functions:(22)
Conflicts may occur when motorized and non-motorized users cross paths, such as at intersections, or are on parallel paths, such as traveling along the same road. Eliminating conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users may provide the greatest benefit to non-motorized users but may not be feasible due to right-of-way or funding constraints. A typical countermeasure that eliminates conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users is a separated shared use path. When conflicts cannot be eliminated, measures to reduce the potential for a conflict between motorized and non-motorized users should be considered. These measures include employing signage to alert motorists of the presence of a crossing utilized by non-motorized users or providing separated space along the roadway. The severity of a conflict can be reduced through the control of speeds through signage or changes to the physical character of the roadway. Countermeasures that reduce the potential of a conflict and those that reduce the severity of a conflict can be deployed simultaneously to enhance safety. The engineering countermeasures are presented in three sections:
Addressing Safety at Point Locations (Crossings)
A crossing is an obvious point of potential conflict between road users. Short-range measures can be implemented before longer-range countermeasures are deployed at crossings. Traffic control devices (e.g., signs and beacons) can be deployed quickly at and often in advance of a crossing to inform motorists and non-motorized users alike of the presence of a crossing and the potential for conflict. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides guidance on applicable traffic control devices that can be used at non-motorized crossings. The MUTCD also describes pavement markings that can be used for non-motorized crossings or crosswalks. Selection of the appropriate traffic control devices and pavement markings to address non-motorized safety is dependent on several factors, including non-motorized volume, vehicle speed, traffic volume, and crossing distance. For example, in rural areas it may not always be advisable to "mark" a crosswalk. Table 5 contains information from a study conducted by FHWA providing guidance regarding appropriate conditions for marking a crosswalk based on the number of lanes, vehicle ADT, and posted speed.(23) For example, a two-lane roadway with an ADT of 4,500 vpd and a speed limit of 40 mph may be a possible candidate for a marked crossing, but it would be preferable (noted as "P" in the table) to include other treatments in combination with the marked crossing, such as a pedestrian knockdown sign or a pedestrian hybrid beacon. In rural areas, crosswalks are typically only applied on low-speed roadways (i.e., those with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less).
In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Sign.
Pedestrian hybrid beacon (Source: FHWA Proven Safety Countermeasures).
Table 5. Crosswalk Marking Guidance for Roadways < 9,000 vpd (from Zegeer et al., 2005).
Other treatments that can be used to enhance a crossing are described in Table 9 in Appendix A.
Addressing Safety Along Roadways
Countermeasures that address non-motorized safety along roadways are generally directed where motorized and non-motorized users share the roadway. A lack of dedicated space for non-motorized users is typically encountered in rural, undeveloped areas. Short-range countermeasures that can be applied include signing to alert motorists of the presence of non-motorized users. For example, a SHARE THE ROAD plaque can be used in conjunction with a warning sign to alert drivers of the presense of a particular mode (e.g., bicycles or horse-drawn vehicles). The MUTCD provides guidance on applicable signs that can be used along roadways for non-motorized users that is incorporated throughout the document. Some examples of sections that apply to non-motorized use are sections 2C.49, 2C.60, 5C.09 7B.08, and 9B.01.
Engineering measures to address a lack of dedicated space for non-motorized users include restriping space for non-motorized users on the roadway (if pavement width is adequate), creating or widening paved shoulders, or creating a separated parallel path for non-motorized users. While creating or widening shoulders will have safety benefits for motorized and non-motorized traffic alike, it may be more economically feasible to construct a separated, parallel shared use path for pedestrians and bicyclists. shared use paths, which are designed to carry lighter loads, cost less to construct than shoulders that are designed for heavy loads.
"Roadway characteristics such as the absence of sidewalks, higher traffic volume, higher vehicle speed, and smaller width of unpaved shoulder increase the likelihood that a walking-along-roadway pedestrian crash will occur."(24) It may be more economically feasible to construct a separated parallel path for pedestrians and bicyclists, which are designed to carry lighter loads, than shoulders designed for heavy loads.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) July 10, 2008 Guidance Memorandum on Consideration and Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures offers guidance for the application of shoulders.(25) For rural highways in less developed areas that have occasional pedestrian traffic, walkable shoulders of at least four feet are recommended on both sides of the roadway.
The rumble stripe shown is combined with the edge line pavement marking allowing space on the shoulder for non-motorized use.
The New York State DOT (NYSDOT) has implemented a policy to make shoulders walkable. In order to address the requirement to give pedestrians full consideration on all Federal-aid projects, the NYSDOT Highway Design Manual specifies that shoulders should be designed to be pedestrian friendly when acting as a pedestrian facility. The NYSDOT manual states that, when pedestrian facilities are warranted, the preferred facility for pedestrian travel along a road is a sidewalk.(26) However, when it is necessary to design shoulders as walkways, the following questions should be considered:
NYSDOT policy also states that if shoulders are designed for pedestrians to walk facing traffic, then they should have a minimum width of four feet and should be accompanied by pedestrian crossings in order to provide access to the opposite side of the roadway. Shoulders that are designed for pedestrians to walk in either direction should have a minimum width of five feet.
Rural areas with existing shoulders are often used to accommodate non-motorized travel. To improve safety for a run off the road vehicle, many States have adopted policy on edgeline rumble strips and rumble stripes. These features can have an adverse effect on non-motorized travel, specifically bicyclists and horse-and-buggies. FHWA's rumble strip polices affect shoulder, edgeline, and centerline rumble strip use.(27) Some of the recommendations include using continuous, milled centerline, edgeline, and shoulder rumble strips; the addition of a four-foot paved shoulder to extend beyond the rumble strip; and considering all road users and the potential effects that rumble strips may have on them. The Virginia DOT's policy specifies that an intermittent shoulder rumble strip should be used to provide accessibility to bicyclists.
An intermittent pattern provides 12-foot gaps between 48-foot sections of rumble strips for bicyclists to maneuver and leave the shoulder (e.g., to make a turn). A minimum four-foot shoulder outside of the rumble strip is provided. If high volumes of bicycle or horse-drawn vehicle traffic are present or expected, a minimum of five-foot paved shoulder outside of the rumble strip is desirable. This is particularly needed if there are objects close to the roadway edge, such as guardrail. When roadway grades exceed 6 percent, the gaps are increased to 16 feet. By helping to prevent shoulder encroachments, edgeline rumbles strips can prevent crashes between motorized and non-motorized users. Additional details, as well as other treatments that can be used to enhance non-motorized travel along a local rural road, are described in Table 10 in Appendix A.
Speeding affects the severity of motorized/non-motorized crashes. Controlling speeding through small, rural villages—where non-motorized travel may be frequent—may be a priority for a community. The area where drivers are expected to reduce speeds from the rural, undeveloped section of the roadway to the developed area is known as the "transition zone" (see Figure 8). The objective of a transition zone is for vehicle speed to be reduced to the point where the lower speed limit is reached upon entering the village. For this to be effective, this may require the following:
The speed reduction measures applied to a village are referred to as "traffic calming," which is defined as "the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users."(29) Traffic calming encourages self-enforcing, slower, and more uniform vehicle speeds. Traffic calming measures are typically applied on low-speed roadways (i.e., those with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less) in "urbanized areas." Caution should be used when using traffic calming devices because they are not applicable on all types of roadways and may in fact increase crashes on some rural roads. Listed in Appendix A are several resources that can be consulted that address speeding in rural communities.
"Addressing speed through law enforcement alone often leads to temporary compliance at a significant cost. A more permanent way to reinforce the need to reduce speed is to change the look and feel of the road by installing traffic calming treatments that communicate to drivers that the function of the roadway is changing."
Examples of approach and transition zone speed reduction measures that are applicable to rural local roads are shown in Table 10 in Appendix A. Many of these treatments can be tested through the use of temporary measures (e.g., cones or delineators) to assess the real-time effectiveness before full-scale implementation of a measure.
Appendix A has a more comprehensive list of countermeasures, highlighting description, application, cost for implementation and crash modification factor (CMF), when appropriate. A CMF is a multiplicative factor used to determine the expected change in the number of crashes after implementing a specific countermeasure at a specific site. Appendix B offers resources with countermeasures that address non-motorized safety issues and should be consulted when considering safety treatments. An engineer from the county, State DOT, or LTAP Center should be consulted when selecting and/or implementing engineering countermeasures.
Education and public outreach can be quickly implemented to improve non-motorized safety. Public outreach campaigns targeting unsafe behaviors and other issues can increase public awareness of non-motorized safety. Education efforts that inform and reinforce safe and proper roadway use for motorized and non-motorized users may help create a safer environment. Driver education courses used to teach new drivers about safe and legal motor vehicle operation can also be used to discuss situational behaviors when encountering non-motorized users. Similarly, bicycling courses also teach children and adults about safe and legal riding practices. Potential methods of transferring this information include the following:
These events can be programmed on a local community or non-motorized safety calendar. The following are key messages that address behaviors contributing to crashes in rural areas and can be communicated as part of an education program:
NCHRP Report 622: Effectiveness of Behavioral Highway Safety Countermeasures provides a thorough description of countermeasures that may help to address behavioral concerns.
Several agencies provide educational materials for non-motorized user's safety, including those listed below:
Education efforts are more effective in changing behavior when they are conducted in conjunction with law enforcement strategies.
Laws are intended to govern the operation of the roadway by all road users. Enforcing the "rules of the road" can help to create a safer environment for all road users. Effective enforcement begins with education strategies to inform both law enforcement officials and the general public of the rights and responsibilities of all roadway users, specifically as they relate to non-motorized users. As part of an enforcement effort, the University of New Mexico created a brochure highlighting those statutes related to pedestrian safety.(36) The basic traffic laws that govern the interactions between motorized and non-motorized users can be found in the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC), which most States have adopted in whole or in part.
An adult school crossing guard stops traffic on a two-lane road though a rural community to allow children to safely cross the street.
Staffing and funding constraints may limit the ability of a rural law enforcement agency to provide comprehensive or sustained enforcement strategies. For this reason, enforcement efforts should target the following:
Law enforcement officers should be engaged throughout the process of addressing safety. They can provide a critical assessment of safety issues, have a good understanding of the potential positive and negative effects of countermeasures, implement enforcement campaigns, and are good educators of traffic safety practices. Strategies to support the efforts of law enforcement include the following:
Emergency Medical Services
The remote nature of many rural communities, coupled with low density of medical facilities, plays a major role in limiting the ability to provide timely medical treatment to people injured in a crash. The "golden hour" is defined as the window of time in which the lives of the majority of critically injured trauma patients can be saved, if definitive treatment is provided. This window of time is 60 minutes from the moment of injury through life-saving medical procedures. Factors contributing to response time include the ability of others to identify a crash and to notify emergency personnel, the ability of emergency personnel to quickly respond to the scene, and the ability to quickly transport each victim to a trauma center. Strategies to improve emergency medical services' ability to respond should be considered. This may include improving cell phone coverage (for notification), along with global positioning system (GPS) assisted cell phone location. Emergency services personnel should be engaged throughout the process of addressing safety.
This section illustrates potential methods of addressing non-motorized safety in rural areas. Three rural example scenarios are described, including conditions, issues, and potential countermeasures (from Tables 8, 9 and 10) that can be implemented. Short-range measures can be applied to address an issue so that improvements can be quickly realized. Intermediate or long-range improvements can be implemented as funding or other project opportunities become available.
Example 1: High Speeds in an Active Pedestrian / Bicycle Zone: Addressing Issues at Spot Locations and Short Corridors
A straight rural road with no shoulder and a posted speed of 45 mph enters an area active with pedestrians and cyclists. This area has a posted speed of 35 mph. Adjacent to the roadway is a school, and across the street is a park. There is information indicating some motorists are traveling 55 mph through the 35 mph zone. There are few gaps in traffic during student drop-off and pick-up at the school. Some children from nearby residences walk along the road to and from school.
Rural road with no shoulder entering an area with pedestrian/bicycle activity.
Short-range measurescan be implemented rather quickly at this type of location and can have an immediate positive effect.
Mid-range measures should be implemented to help create a lasting effect on non-motorized safety, as it may be difficult to sustain the short-range enforcement of the speed zone.
Long-range measures can be applied to help change the nature of the roadway in the area with high non-motorized activity, which should alert motorists that conditions have changed and to reduce speed.
Example 2: Rural Road with Shared-Use Path / Shoulder: Corridor through a Rural Village
A pedestrian walking with the flow of traffic along the shoulder.
A shared use path becomes a roadway shoulder along a half-mile stretch of two-lane roadway through a rural community that attracts seasonal visitors. The path and shoulder are intended for shared use by pedestrians, cyclists, and in-line skaters. Safety issues contributing to conflicts between all road users include the following:
Bicycle signage and pavement markings.
The following countermeasures can be applied to improve safety:
Short-range measures can also affect behavior. Restriping crossings based on pedestrian desire lines can be very effective; however, these locations should be evaluated to determine safety.
Mid-range and long-range measures that separate pedestrian and bicyclist traffic will prove to be the most effective given the user volumes and the fact that much of the population consists of tourists who may be more difficult to reach through education measures.
Example 3: Rural Road without Shoulders: Addressing Network-Wide Issues
Most rural roads in a county lack paved or graded shoulders. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and farm vehicles all share the travel lane with motor vehicles, resulting in large speed differentials and increased exposure for the slower roadway users.
A rural road where there is no shoulder.
There are several measures that can be applied at this typical location.
If longitudinal rumble strips are added along with the paved shoulder, they should contain sufficient gaps for cyclists to move from the shoulder to the travel lane. Additionally, there should be sufficient width for cyclists to ride between the edge of the rumble strip and the edge of the shoulder.
Federal funds may be available for transportation safety projects. Many Federal funding sources are administered by the State transportation agency and possibly through Metropolitan Planning Organizations or Regional Planning Offices, with varying eligibility requirements and program goals. Potential funding sources are presented in Table 6. Federal funding assistance for eligible activities may include some 100 percent Federal-aid programs and programs requiring a non-Federal match. The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a data-driven program.. Projects funded through the HSIP have to show need based on data. State and local funding are usually available for specific safety projects, and the practitioner should contact the appropriate agencies in his or her State for availability and requirements.
Table 6. Potential Funding Sources.
Implementing countermeasures is dependent on both the complexity and the available resources. Short-range improvements can often be implemented through maintenance activities, such as enhancing pavement markings or trimming vegetation at an intersection to enhance visibility of crossing traffic. Mid-range measures typically involve construction and can be built when funding becomes available. Construction projects can also be scheduled as long-range improvements and can be integrated into local, regional, and State transportation improvement programs and plans.
Decision-makers will need justification to take action and allocate resources. Demonstrating the benefits of specific countermeasures will help create broad support and commitment to local initiatives. In fact, many improvements can address safety concerns facing both motorized and non-motorized transportation. For example, paved shoulders not only provide space for non-motorized users outside of the designated vehicular travel lanes, but they also provide space for errant or disabled vehicles. To demonstrate the benefits to all road users, Maine DOT compiled 17 reasons to pave shoulders, 4 of which address non-motorized users' safety:
Implemented strategies should be monitored and evaluated to determine levels of success. These help provide accountability and can be used to keep stakeholders informed and engaged. A variety of methods can be employed to evaluate progress within an HSIP. Tracking countermeasures can be accomplished through the development of a table or spreadsheet, detailing implementation information and status. Columns A-D of Table 7provide examples of how installation information can be tracked.
Table 7. Example Table to Monitor Countermeasure Installation and Measure of Effectiveness Data.
Evaluating the effectiveness of non-motorized countermeasures after installation can provide valuable insights and direction regarding improving safety for non-motorized users in the future. The evaluation should focus on the quantifiable effects of the deployed countermeasures but could include qualitative feedback from safety stakeholders.
After countermeasures have been in place for at least one year, an interim evaluation can take place (see Table 7); however, at least three years of after data are required for a comprehensive evaluation of implemented strategies.
A before-and-after crash study can be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented strategies in improving safety when sufficient data are available. Details on creating a well-designed and executed before-and-after crash study can be found in A Guide to Developing Quality Crash Modification Factors(37) or in the Highway Safety Manual (HSM).(38)
In some cases, conducting a before-and-after study using crash data is not feasible due to the lack of non-motorized user crash data. When sufficient crash data are not available, other measures of effectiveness (MOEs) can be used to evaluate the safety performance of an implemented strategy. Some example MOEs include the following:
These MOEs are observed during a field study under similar periods and durations before and after implementation. As with crash-based evaluations of effectiveness, volume data for motorized and non-motorized users can help provide context on the results.
Approximately 60 percent of all road miles in the U.S. are non-Interstate, rural roads owned and operated by local entities, such as towns, counties, and Tribal governments. In 2009, over 1,500 persons were killed in non-motorized crashes on rural roads in the U.S. Pedestrians and cyclists comprise the vast majority of these fatalities, and two-lane roads exhibit the greatest number of rural bicycle and pedestrian crashes while also having the highest crash frequency. Local practitioners who operate and maintain local rural roads should have a clear understanding of the needs of non-motorized users, as well as potential issues and countermeasures to mitigate them.
The challenge in addressing non-motorized safety in rural areas is that crashes involving non-motorized road users tend to be widely dispersed in time and location, defying a simple approach to reduce crash incidence. The significant number of lane-miles and the often dispersed nature of crashes may make it difficult to target specific locations for assessment and improvement. Yet, the potential for a severe crash involving non-motorized users may be high. Applying a systemic approach to addressing the safety of non-motorized users may be beneficial. Rather than concentrate on the locations of crashes, the focus of a systemic approach is to identify the common risk factors in crashes.
There may be opportunities to apply a systemic approach in conjunction with the State's SHSP, which may include local and/or rural roads as an emphasis area for safety improvements. In particular, some of these areas may provide data or other programs to address non-motorized roadway user safety.
When seeking to address non-motorized safety within the local agency, the local practitioner may also look for opportunities to leverage non-motorized safety through other projects or may use data to identify non-motorized road user safety problems. Data that are readily available to many State and local agencies can facilitate the identification of the factors affecting non-motorized user safety. Detailed crash data provide the most substantive source of information to use in understanding the effects of roadway features and roadway user behaviors. Considering the relatively infrequent nature of rural non-motorized crashes, five years of crash data are recommended; however, practitioners should be aware of deficiencies in non-motorized user crash data. Other primary sources of data may include traffic data, speed data, local law enforcement records, emergency service data, hospital reports, and State and Federal databases. When historical data are insufficient to define issues, supplemental data should be obtained from other sources, such as data from stakeholders and observational data collected in the field.
Organizing and presenting data in a clear and concise manner aids in the process to define and understand factors affecting safety. Crash summary tables detailing severity, lighting, time of day, day of week, and month can be helpful in highlighting issues. Annotated maps can be created ranging from simple "push pin" maps that identify crash locations to more detailed maps illustrating crash characteristics and the roadway environment. Anecdotal information can also be shown on a map with a simple description of the observed concern written on the appropriate location of the map.
Once relevant data describing non-motorized safety have been assembled, the study area can be defined. The extent of the study area can be either a spot location, a corridor, or a network. A detailed assessment of the factors affecting non-motorized safety should be conducted. The assessment consists of two parts:
Crash data may not provide a comprehensive understanding of conditions and behaviors that affect non-motorized users; therefore, a field assessment should be conducted by local practitioners to collect additional information. The field assessment may be conducted at all or selected key locations to verify analysis findings and provide more detailed information regarding roadway conditions, transportation operations, and user behaviors that can help identify issues and select countermeasures. Various walkability and bikeability checklists that provide guidance for field observations of pedestrian and cyclist safety are available to practitioners, and some of these resources can be used as part of the RSA process. RSAs, which include a field review, are a valuable tool used to evaluate safety and to identify opportunities for improvement.
Once the issues are well understood, the issues should be prioritized and countermeasures identified. Safety issues associated with more frequent crashes and higher crash severity levels are higher priority than issues with less frequent and severe crashes. Countermeasures should address specific safety concerns identified through the data analysis and field reviews. The type and application of safety countermeasures will largely be based on the identification and analysis of non-motorized needs, behaviors, and conditions that affect safety. Proposed countermeasures must be appropriate for the local land use and roadway conditions.
Non-motorized safety cannot be completely addressed through engineering countermeasures alone. Communication and coordination among the 4 E's of safety with State and regional planning organizations are essential to ensuring that safety is comprehensively addressed. Representatives from each of the 4 E's may need to communicate regularly to ensure that countermeasures and strategies are coordinated to address the safety of all road users in rural areas. Implemented improvements should work collectively to address as many operational and safety concerns for both motorized and non-motorized users as possible. Detailed information on effective countermeasure selection may be acquired through partnerships with State and local agencies, including the State's LTAP. Funding for non-motorized safety programs is available from several local sources. Federal funding relies on a data-driven process that places emphasis on crash data. Local agencies can set their own priorities on spending using their own funds.
Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of countermeasures can help contribute to the success of a non-motorized safety program. Monitoring helps provide accountability and can be used to keep stakeholders informed and engaged. Evaluating the effectiveness of non-motorized countermeasures after installation can provide valuable direction. A before-and-after study comparing crashes before verses after implementation can be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of measures implemented as part of a program. However, because crashes involving non-motorized users tend to be rare, conducting a before-and-after study using crash data may not be feasible. Other MOEs, such as vehicle speeds, may be used to evaluate the safety performance of an implemented strategy. Evaluations should include user volume data to verify the validity of results and confirm that improvements are attributable to safety measures.
Addressing the safety of non-motorized road users on local rural roads can be challenging. Employing a systemic approachthat is supported by data and field reviews and considers the input of relevant stakeholders will better position agencies to address the safety needs of non-motorized users on rural roads.
Tables 8, 9, and 10 present a toolbox of common engineering countermeasures that may be used to address non-motorized safety issues on rural roads. This list is not comprehensive; it is intended to provide general guidance on typical countermeasures. Each countermeasure in the tables includes the following information:
Crash Modification Factors
Table 8. Roadway Measures
Table 9. Crossing Measures
Standards/Guidelines to Address Safety on Local Roads
Resources to Address Safety on Rural Roads
Resources to Address Safety of Pedestrians and Bicyclists on Rural Roads
Resources to Address Speed on Rural Roads
Resources to Address Road User Behaviors on Rural Roads
Resources to Address the Safety of Horse-drawn Vehicles