Evaluation of the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program

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Prepared for the
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety

February 2, 2009

Logo: Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Prepared by
The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Research and Innovative Technology Administration

Executive Summary

This report summarizes the results of an evaluation of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program. The study was done by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center at the request of the FHWA Office of Safety (HSA). Five of the 19 “focus” locations were chosen for this evaluation based on geographic diversity, number and types of Program activities, and the availability of data about Program implementation. The study consisted of semi-structured telephone interviews with 29 pedestrian safety stakeholders (mostly from government agencies) across the five locations.

The key findings from the study are:

  • Being designated a focus location by the FHWA helped raise awareness of pedestrian safety problems and gave them a legitimacy not had previously. It also helped draw attention and resources to generate momentum for addressing pedestrian issues.

  • Participants found the course offerings, technical assistance, conference calls, and web conferences valuable for:

    • Improving participants’ understanding of and attitudes toward pedestrian safety.

    • Increasing participants’ ability and confidence to advocate for pedestrian safety improvements.

    • Communicating practical techniques for improving pedestrian safety.

  • Demand for the course offerings far exceeded their capacity.

  • Several focus locations have developed follow-on pedestrian safety training, primarily with the assistance of the FHWA Resource Center.

  • The mix of professions represented in the courses—both within transportation agencies and between transportation agencies and other state and local agencies, especially public health and law enforcement—fostered relationships among attendees that have been helpful in continuing to address pedestrian safety problems.

  • Most focus locations have implemented or are planning to implement countermeasures and initiatives that will improve pedestrian safety. In some locations, this involves developing statewide or regional pedestrian safety plans. Each location also mentioned some practical strategies being planned or already in use based on content from the courses. These were generally small-scale changes such as installing pedestrian countdown timers or improving striping at crosswalks. Several locations are planning substantial improvements such as infrastructure changes for traffic calming or installing pedestrian refuge islands.

  • The Program has also spurred changes in policies, business processes, and institutional structures focused on pedestrian safety.

The main recommendations for improvements to the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety are:

  • Offer more courses.

  • Offer courses regularly so that new employees can be trained as they are hired.

  • Create course content that can be easily customized to meet the specific needs of the intended audiences.

  • Explore educational strategies other than the courses, conference calls, and technical assistance (e.g., web-based learning, peer learning).

  • Develop outreach and education strategies and materials for FHWA division offices to distribute in their states. This could include:

    • Outreach material for senior managers and policy makers to emphasize the importance of pedestrian safety and how the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program can help to improve pedestrian safety.

    • Educational resources such as studies of “best practices” or examples of successful pedestrian safety improvements under specific conditions (e.g., size of the metropolitan area, nature of the transportation network, volume of pedestrians).

    • Tools to help agencies analyze pedestrian safety and identify appropriate solutions.

  • Promote the technical assistance component of the Program.

  • Develop tools and strategies to continually monitor and evaluate Program effectiveness.

  • Conduct further research to provide a thorough understanding of the effectiveness of various pedestrian countermeasures and the keys to successful Program outcomes.

  • Consider modifying the strategy for determining which localities should receive Focused Approach to Pedestrian resources to reflect a combination of need and interest.

Table of Contents

  1. Background
  2. Evaluation Approach
  3. Findings
  4. Recommendations
  5. Conclusion

Appendix A. Case Studies
Appendix B. Interview Questions

List of Abbreviations

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
Caltrans California Department of Transportation
CMAP Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
GDOT Georgia Department of Transportation
GTSAC Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission
HSA FHWA Office of Safety
IDOT Illinois Department of Transportation
MDOT Michigan Department of Transportation
MPO Metropolitan Planning Organization
NYMTC New York Metropolitan Transportation Council
PBIC Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
PSAP Pedestrian Safety Action Plan

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Program Contact

Tamara Redmon


Gabriel Rousseau


What's New

The FHWA Safety Office is continually developing new materials to assist states, localities and citizens in improving pedestrian and bicycle safety. The materials listed on this page were completed recently.

New Pedestrian Forum – Fall 2014

New Understanding Pedestrian Crashes in Louisville, KY 2006-2010

New Bicycle Safer Journey (Revised 2014)

New Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Guide

new A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety

new Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety Research Report

REVISED Pedsafe 2013: Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System

New Pedestrian Safer Journey 2013 (Revised)  

Proven Countermeasures for Pedestrian Safety

Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety

Promoting the Implementation of Proven Pedestrian Countermeasures

State Best Practice Policy for Medians

State Best Practice Policy for Shoulders and Walkways

Pedestrian Countermeasure Policy Best Practice Report

The State of Florida is developing a statewide Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. They have set up a project website that includes information about the project, workshop presentations and resources relating to pedestrian safety.

Evaluating Pedestrian Safety Countermeasures

Safety Benefits of Raised Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Areas: Brochure, Booklet

Safety Benefits of Walkways, Sidewalks, and Paved Shoulders: Brochure, Booklet

Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan