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Evaluation of the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program

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IV. Recommendations

Based on the five locations studied, the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program appears to be very effective. Interviewees did, however, offer many suggestions for strengthening the Program. This section summarizes themes from the interviews and observations of the Volpe Center study team.

There are three categories of recommendations: Program content and delivery; outreach and education; and Program evaluation.

Program Content and Delivery

Expand the training capacity to offer more learning opportunities that can be delivered at regular intervals.

In each of the locations studied, interest in the courses exceeded available slots. Additionally, many interviewees said that they would like courses offered on a regular basis. This could be done by:

Expand course content to include information on meeting ADA requirements.

Many interviewees noted the overlap between countermeasures for pedestrian safety problems and measures necessary for compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Given this natural connection, offering ADA and pedestrian safety training in a single course would eliminate redundancy between the two curricula. It would also ensure that material presented in ADA training is consistent with that of pedestrian safety training. Finally, teaching both topics in the same course would decrease the training-related burden on agencies and their staff since participants would not have to attend two separate courses.

Tailor course content to the specific needs of each location.

While participants were very pleased with the course content, there was some sentiment that the courses could be improved by tailoring the content to the specific circumstances of each location. For example, a public works director from a rural county in Northern California suggested that courses delivered in rural areas could include content on pedestrian safety on rural roads, replacing the content on pedestrian safety on multi-lane, high-speed roads in urban areas.

Interviewees consistently reported that one of the most relevant parts of the courses was the field audit, which used a “real life project with real problems to be solved.”

Include content on how to incorporate pedestrian safety considerations into the standard project development process.

One of the most common problems that interviewees cited is that pedestrian safety considerations are not a standard part of the project development process. They are often treated as an ancillary task to be addressed outside the normal project development process. This has two negative consequences. First, consideration of pedestrian safety measures often occurs well into the project development process. At this stage, modifying the project to incorporate pedestrian safety countermeasures might not be possible because the project is very close to completion. Second, occasionally pedestrian safety issues are not considered at all because the pedestrian safety review is left out of the project development process entirely due to oversight on the part of the project developers. To avoid these two problems, pedestrian safety must be considered along with all other project requirements such as pavement design and drainage.

Coordinate course content with other FHWA training initiatives.

Interviewees stated that they would like to see the courses integrated with other FHWA training. Some interviewees commented that they have participated in other FHWA learning opportunities that contained information that conflicts with some of the content in the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety courses. The Program should work with other FHWA offices to ensure that pedestrian safety content is consistent; to avoid redundancy; and to take advantage of economies of scale.

Explore mechanisms other than classroom training.

While classroom training has many advantages, it can be costly to deliver and inconvenient for attendees. In addition, many interviewees cited difficulty in getting busy people to take time off from their jobs for training, particularly for the longer courses. To reach a wider audience, including those outside the focus locations, FHWA should explore other mechanisms for learning, including:

Improve outreach to notify stakeholders of dates and topics of upcoming conference calls and web conferences.

Some interviewees said that they have participated in some conference calls and web conference and found them valuable. However, a few reported that they have not participated consistently, in part because they were not notified of the schedule and topics for these events.

None of the locations studied had a consistent and reliable way of announcing the dates and topics of teleconference calls and web conferences. Word is generally spread informally, relying on stakeholders to be in the right place at the right time to learn about upcoming events. The Program could provide information and outreach material on the conference calls and web conferences to FHWA Division Offices for distribution to people in the state who might benefit from participation.

Promote the technical assistance component of the Program.

The locations that received technical assistance found it extremely valuable. However, technical assistance was a very under-utilized component of the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program. Of the14 states and four cities designated as focus locations, only two states and one city took advantage of the technical assistance component. A few interviewees were not aware that this service was available. The Office of Safety should work with FHWA division offices to convey to focus locations the type and extent of technical assistance available.

Require focus locations to develop an “action plan” with goals and performance measures as a perquisite for participation in the Program.

To ensure that the focus locations are committed to the Program and that they have a workable plan for its implementation, FHWA could require each location to submit an action plan stating their goals, strategies, implementation details, and performance measures . For example, this plan could include a qualitative and quantitative description of the region’s pedestrian safety problems and how the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program will help address them. The action plan could also include the region’s approach to follow up with participants to determine changes that have been made that were influenced by the Program. This would provide data to the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program to use in evaluating the entire Program.

Consider modifying the methodology for determining “focus locations” to reflect a combination of need and interest.

As currently designed, all locations that met a given threshold for pedestrian fatalities received Program resources, regardless of the location’s transportation priorities. Targeting locations could be improved by offering Program resources to all locations that meet a given threshold for pedestrian safety rates. However, each location would have to request pedestrian safety training opportunities as evidence that the location is committed and ready to make the changes necessary to improve pedestrian safety.

Outreach and Education

Develop outreach material specifically aimed at senior managers and policy-makers to encourage them to promote pedestrian safety improvements.

Several interviewees said that support from leaders and policy-makers gave the topic of pedestrian safety generally, and the Focused Approach to Pedestrian Safety Program specifically, a gravitas that generated interest and enthusiasm. Conversely, a few interviewees said that the apparent lack of interest in pedestrian safety displayed by senior managers and policy makers caused them to question the importance of pedestrian safety to their organization. The Program could create outreach material and/or develop a webinar specifically intended to impress upon leaders and policy-makers the importance of improving pedestrian safety. Information could include statistics about pedestrian safety, a description of the many modest improvements that can make pedestrian travel safer, and examples of pedestrian safety measures and programs that have been implemented across the nation.

Interviewees also recommended that FHWA emphasize to state and local DOTs the importance of having staff at all levels of the organization attend the training and of the particular value of having upper management introduce the training to demonstrate the agency’s commitment to pedestrian safety.

Develop and promulgate case studies of “best practices” in pedestrian safety.

In each location studied, Program activities influenced changes and new initiatives that improve pedestrian safety. Several interviewees suggested that it would be helpful to have information on possible pedestrian safety countermeasures that would be suitable for their location. This might include a booklet presenting options, their advantages and disadvantages, and descriptions of initiatives undertaken in locations across the country. A list of resources for learning more about these options could also be provided.

Develop and disseminate tools to help agencies analyze pedestrian safety and identify appropriate solutions.

Some of the focus locations in the study developed useful tools that could be helpful to other locations. For example, California developed PSAP templates to assist local governments in developing their own PSAPs. Additionally, Caltrans and the FHWA Resource Center staff are creating an on-line course in developing a PSAP. As part of the best practices research, FHWA should collect information on existing tools and help make them widely available to communities seeking to improve pedestrian safety.

Program Evaluation

Require focus locations to document the results of the Program activities delivered and the lessons learned.

As a prerequisite for participating in the Program, FHWA should require focus locations to document their experiences and results. In addition, focus locations should be required to write periodic follow-up reports describing pedestrian safety countermeasures and initiatives undertaken as a result of their Program activities. This requirement should also include a description of lessons learned in implementing these countermeasures and initiatives. FHWA could provide a template to this data collection and ensure data consistency.

The FHWA could use these reports to continuously monitor and improve the Program. FHWA could also use “success stories” based on these reports to market and promote the Program. In addition, this requirement would promote transparency and accountability among Program participants and course instructors.

Track Program results over time to determine whether there is a reduction in pedestrian incidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Given the many factors that contribute to pedestrian injuries and fatalities, it is difficult to isolate the specific impacts of Program activities. However, FHWA should monitor trends in the focus locations to determine whether there are, in fact, improvements in pedestrian safety and, if not, explore the factors that might contribute to the lack of progress.

Conduct further research to determine critical factors in Program success.

One of the purposes of this evaluation was to investigate trends and patterns in Program outcomes in order to gain a better understanding of critical success factors. While this study has created a foundation for future research, its scale was too small to make any conclusive statements on factors influencing Program success. Future studies could examine:

Conduct additional research on pedestrian safety.

Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of various pedestrian safety countermeasures; e.g., which countermeasures work best in rural versus urban locations; which countermeasures are most effective in addressing specific pedestrian issues such as eliminating jaywalking or reducing traffic speed in locations with high pedestrian volumes. Interviewees also requested research on cost-effective methods for collecting data on the length and quantity of non-motorized trips and the incorporation of these data into existing travel demand models.

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Page last modified on January 31, 2013.
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