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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Pedestrian Forum

Pedestrian Forum – Spring 2003

Safe Pedestrians and a Walkable America
VOL 23, Spring 2003


The goal of the FHWA is to continually improve highway safety by reducing highway fatalities and injuries by 20 percent in ten years. Ensuring safe travel on highways is the guiding principle throughout the FHWA. Pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 percent of all traffic fatalities and are one of the focus areas of the Safety Office. FHWA has taken the position that walking and bicycling are legitimate modes of transportation. There is no question that conditions for bicycling and walking need to be improved in every community in the United States; it is no longer acceptable that over 5,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are killed in traffic every year, that people with disabilities cannot travel without encountering barriers, and that two desirable and efficient modes of travel have been made difficult and uncomfortable.

Every transportation agency has the responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference in the bicycle-friendliness and walkability of our communities. The design information to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians is available, as is the funding. The USDOT is committed to doing all it can to improve conditions for bicycling and walking and to make them safer ways to travel. (The Pedestrian Forum is also on the web at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/)

Safety Office Completes Pedestrian Safety Campaign

After a year and a half of development, the FHWA Safety Office has finally completed the Pedestrian Safety Campaign Planner, which is a comprehensive kit of materials for local communities to use in implementing their own Pedestrian Safety Campaign. The threefold purpose of the campaign is to (1) sensitize drivers to the fact that pedestrians are legitimate road users and should always be expected on or near the roadway, (2) educate pedestrians about minimizing risks to their safety, and (3) develop program materials to explain or enhance the operation of engineering measures, such as crosswalks and pedestrian signals. Campaign materials were unveiled and available for viewing at the Lifesavers Conference in early March.

The PSA toolkit includes materials designed for use in television, radio, cinema, and print advertising. Some of the materials included are in Spanish. States and local communities are responsible for implementing the campaign through local television and radio stations and print medias. A Campaign Planning Guide that explains in detail how to implement the campaign successfully at the local level is also included. The Campaign Planning Guide also contains sample articles and news releases; posters; brochures; and graphics for promotional materials. In the near future, we will be looking for a few local communities to possibly demo and test the materials developed. Aida Berkovitz, NHTSA liaison in San Francisco, CA; and Frank Julian, Safety Specialist in the FHWA's Southern Resource Center, will be coordinating the effort.

The kits are available in limited quantities, so we ask that only those who believe they will actually use them request the materials. If you would like to view the materials to determine if you are interested, please check them out at: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/pedcampaign/.

For more information on the campaign, contact Tamara Redmon at tamara.redmon@fhwa.dot.gov (phone: 202-366-4077).

Profitability of Building Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects

A study done in Norway found that building bicycle and pedestrian projects can show a societal benefit of 4 to 5 times the cost of the project. For details, check out the following link: http://www.vti.se/nordic/ .Segway Legislation Database AssembledThe Children's Center for Injury Research and Policy, Dr. Gary Smith, has compiled a comprehensive list of the status of Segway legislation in each of the 50 states, the federal legislation, and a summary of the key provisions in each bill - including any speed limits. For information, go to: http://www.injurycenter.org/segway

WisDOT Conducts Initial Research on Truncated Domes

The WisDOT has put up on their research web site the initial construction process for numerous truncated dome products that were installed in Madison late last summer and early fall. Please Visit http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/library/research/docs/finalreports/tau-finalreports/domes.pdf

This is only preliminary and only documents the installation process. All of the installations were installed closely following manufacturers' recommended procedures, and in some cases the manufacturers came to Madison to assist and overview the work. (Contributed by Bill Bremer, Safety Engineer in FHWA's Wisconsin Division Office).

Appropriate Color for Truncated Domes

As State and local DOT's start grappling with the Americans With Disabilities Act requirement of placing detectable warnings (truncated domes) on curb ramps, many are struggling with the question of which color the domes should be. Dr. Beezy Bentzen, a researcher with Accessible Design for the Blind offers the following advice:

"My research1 indicated that truncated domes in safety yellow were much more salient to persons with low vision, even when contrast was as low as 40%, than other contrasts up to 86%. Therefore, there is no reason to expect that safety yellow detectable warnings will not be highly visible when applied even to new concrete. (This was the 40% contrast that I tested in the research for FTA. White was not considered in this research, as it was conducted using available detectable warning products, none of which were white.) I think there is a good rationale for the use of safety yellow detectable warnings, i.e., that safety yellow is appropriate to separate opposing uses of the public right-of-way-i.e. pedestrian vs. vehicular."

1Bentzen, B.L.; Nolin, T.L. & Easton, R.D. (1994). Detectable Warning Surfaces: Color, Contrast and Reflectance. Final Report. US DOT, FTA, VNTSC-DTRS 57-93-P-80546.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Detection (Final Report prepared for FHWA and MinnDOT) – The primary goal of this project was to identify the applications and evaluate the accuracy of different non-intrusive technologies in detection of non-motorized traffic. Highlighted here are the pedestrian detection results only. All participating sensors performed well in detecting pedestrians. Based on 100 baseline observations 100 percent accuracy was obtained for the Autoscope Solo, MS Sedco, and the ASIM - DT 272. The Diamond traffic counter showed a 93 percent accuracy in detecting pedestrians. http://projects.dot.state.mn.us/nit/BicyclePedFinalReport/bikepedfinalreport.pdf

Work Zone Safety

Five brochures focusing on Work Zone Safety for Drivers, Trucking Safely through Work Zones, Worker Safety and Visibility, Improving Traffic Control for Night Work Zones, and Accommodating Pedestrians in Work Zones were completed in March, 2003. The pedestrian brochure is intended for the work zone practitioner and provides good information on the pedestrian considerations to be addressed in the planning and design of work zones. A Checklist is also provided as a quick reference guide. For copies of the pedestrian brochure please e-mail leverson.boodlal@fhwa.dot.gov

Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings

This new brochure will available in June 2003 and focuses on some of the emerging accessibility issues and the design parameters that affect sidewalk and street crossings design and operation. For copies please e-mail leverson.boodlal@fhwa.dot.gov.

Beta Testing of PBCAT

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has posted a report describing the beta testing of a computer-based tool designed to assist in pedestrian and bicycle crash analysis and countermeasure selection. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/ped/pbcatjan01/

History of Pedestrian Crashes?

The following excerpt from M. Lay's Ways of the World was provided by Richard Weingroff, Information Liaison Specialist with the FHWA:

"The first road accidents involving cars were reported in London and New York in 1896. The London accident occurred on 17 August at Crystal Palace when a woman pedestrian named Bridget Driscoll was killed by a car driven by one Arthur Edsall. Edsall claimed to have been traveling at only 7 km/h, to have shouted, to no avail, "Stand back!" and to have rung his bell before striking the unfortunate Driscoll. At the inquest, the coroner expressed the wish that such an event would never be repeated. In the American accident, a car collided with a cyclist in New York City, breaking the cyclist's leg. The driver spent a night in jail. The first American fatality due to a car occurred on 14 January 1899, also in New York City, when an electric cab hit and killed real estate salesman Henry H. Bliss as he was assisting a lady passenger off a street car."

Another source quotes an 1899 article in Motor Age magazine: "Chicago generally hailed the advent of the horseless carriage with a good deal of rejoicing. The people wanted it. But we doubt if they want it driven over them or over their rights in the public streets, and the warmth of their welcome is going to be a good deal cooled unless automobile owners exercise more care."

Alas, 100 years later, things haven't changed all that much!


tamara.redmon@fhwa.dot.gov, 202-366-4077
shirley.thompson@fhwa.dot.gov, 202-366-2154
leverson.boodlal@fhwa.dot.gov, 202-366-8044
400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590



Page last modified on January 31, 2013
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