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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Pedestrian Forum

Pedestrian Forum – Winter 2004

Safe Pedestrians and a Walkable America
VOL. 27, Winter 2004


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/pedforum/

Changes to the MUTCD Help Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Enhancements in the 2003 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) includes guidelines for "animated eyes," electronic signs that mimic back-and-forth eye movements to serve as a reminder to look both ways before crossing a street; "countdown signals" that tell pedestrians the time remaining to cross a street safely; and crosswalk markings and "in-street" pedestrian signs that focus the eyes of the driver on crosswalk activity. The revised manual also includes new provisions to help pedestrians with disabilities. For example, the use of barriers to assist in safe navigation of walkways and audible devices to communicate sign information will assist visually impaired individuals. To improve safety for bicyclists, the manual calls for new bicycle lane markings and symbols. See http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov for more information.

National Association Of County Engineers Awarding Grants

NACE, in cooperation with 3M's Traffic Control Materials Division, is starting a new grant program that will award its members $2,000 to $10,000 to help fund projects designed to improve specific traffic and pedestrian safety problems. Categories include school zone safety, pedestrian safety, high hazard roads and high incident intersections. Grant winners will receive 3M products with with in-kind specified values. For more information, visit: www.3m.com/us/safety/tcm/news/nace.jhtml.

There's Safety in Numbers for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

A study done by Peter Jacobson, a Public Health Consultant, found that a motorist is less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling if more people walk or bicycle. The study found that policies that increase the numbers of people walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improving safety of people walking and bicycling. To view the article, please follow this link: http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/3/205?etoc

Michigan Ruling Bad News for Pedestrians

If a traffic light malfunctions and causes a crash, how much responsibility does the municipality have? Not very much, according to a recent ruling in the Michigan Court of Appeals. A man who was robbed, beaten up and left in the street was struck by 2 cars and killed as he struggled to get to safety. His family sued, saying that motorists would have seen him had an overhead street light that had been burned out for two months been repaired by the city. The family was originally awarded $1 million, then that judgment was overturned, as recent appellate court rulings exempted Detroit from any liability for street lighting. For a link to the complete story follow: http://www.freep.com/news/metro/dicker29_20031029.htm.

Enforcement Proves to be Effective Tool in Reducing Crosswalk Crashes

Oregon cities have been able to reduce pedestrian crashes by rigorously enforcing pedestrian laws and fining drivers for not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Under the Pedestrian Safety Operations (PSE) program, a decoy police officer attempts to cross in a crosswalk. A video camera records each incident of drivers not yielding and either a warning or citation is issued. In the first three years of the program, there was a 16% decrease in pedestrian injuries (from 348 to 293) and a 19% reduction in pedestrian fatalities (from 16 to 13), related to crosswalks.

For more information on ODOT's program, contact Rick Waring, ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program, (503) 986-4196, e-mail: rick.a.waring@odot.state.or.us.

ITE Accepting applications for Pedestrian Project Award

The Institute of Transportation Engineers is accepting applications for Pedestrian Project Awards in the categories of: Facilities, Policy, Elderly and/or Mobility Impaired, Education, Safety, and Partnerships. Nominations are due no later than April 1 2004. See full description on page 3.

NYC DOT Using Street Print to Mark Crosswalks

The NYC Department of Transportation is trying a new technology called "street print" with DuraThermTM to mark crosswalks. It imprints thermoplastic into the street to create the image of bricks or other patterns, while eliminating the "tripping" hazard caused when conventional bricks or pavers are used. According to the company's website: "DuraThermTM is a pre-cut, thermoplastic template (grid) that is heat-set into new StreetPrintTM imprinted asphalt. The result is an attractive and visible surface that is completely flush with the asphalt. DuraThermTM is highly durable, vibration-free, snow-plow-proof and fully ADA compliant. DuraThermTM is fast and simple to install, can be installed at night, and the surface can reopen to traffic virtually immediately. In addition, a DuraThermTM surface is safe. It has superior skid resistance that helps prevent slips and falls. DuraThermTM is the only night reflective form of decorative crosswalk or traffic calming surface available." For more information visit: http://www.streetprint.com/media_room/index.php?id=51

Note: This is for informational purposes only. The FHWA does not endorse or promote any commercial products.


Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings: On the Safe Side (FHWA-SA-03-017) —Is a newly released poster-sized brochure that condenses much of the information in the Part 2: Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access: Best Practices Design Guide. One side of the poster has information on the legal framework for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, understanding sidewalk users, sidewalk corridors, sidewalks grades and cross slopes, sidewalk surfaces, protruding objects in the pedestrian environment, driveway crossings, curb ramps, accessible pedestrian signals, and pedestrian crossings. Much of the second side of the brochure contains a map that demonstrates how various ADA treatments look in the roadway environment.

And for those who prefer a booklet format rather than a poster, there is Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings: an Informational Guide (FHWA-SA-03-019), which has all of the information as the poster sized document, but without the map. The booklet is 40 pages long spiral- bound.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists 2003-a Transportation Research Board Safety Research Publication 1828 focuses on the safety and convenience of pedestrian and bicycle travel in urban and rural areas. Pedestrian research topics covered are methods to reduce traffic speeds in high-pedestrian rural areas, an analysis of North Carolina's guidelines for school walk zones, and pedestrian safety with a raised median and redesigned intersection. http://gulliver.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=2017.

Child Pedestrian Fatality Rates by Striking Vehicle Type.— NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) recently completed an examination of data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) comparing pedestrian fatality rates for the two five-year time periods of 1992-1996 and 1997-2001. Rates were stratified according to the body type of the striking vehicle. The research found that Sport utility vehicles, pickups, and vans fatally injured pedestrians at a higher rate than passenger cars during the period 1997-2001, with the greatest difference seen among children under 8 years old. Check out: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/Rnotes/2003/809-640/

Pedestrian Roadway Fatalities—NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) compiled this technical report (DOT HS 809 456) in April 2003. The objective of the study was to examine the pedestrian fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Data was analyzed for trends using the 1998 through 2001 NCSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The report can be viewed at: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/Rpts/2003/809-456.pdf.


tamara.redmon@fhwa.dot.gov, 202-366-4077
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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