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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan

Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan: Background Report

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Product Delivery and Technology Transfer

National Guides

The AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, 1st Edition by AASHTO (1) presents effective measures for accommodating pedestrians on public rights-of-way. The guide recognizes the profound effect that land use planning and site design have on pedestrian mobility and addresses these topics as well.

In “Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Guidelines and Prompt Lists,” Nabors, Gibbs, et al. (132) developed pedestrian road safety audit (RSA) guidelines and prompt lists for FHWA to provide guidance on how to conduct an RSA with a better understanding of the needs of pedestrians of all abilities. The Knowledge Base discusses basic concepts, and The Field Manual presents guidelines and prompt lists. The prompt lists are designed to aid communities in comprehensively and systematically identifying pedestrian safety concerns.

Harkey and Zegeer (72) developed PEDSAFE, an expert system used to provide practitioners with information to improve the safety and mobility of those who walk in the report “PEDSAFE: The Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System.” Online tools provide the user with a list of possible engineering, education, or enforcement treatments to improve pedestrian safety and/or mobility based on user input about a specific location.

In the “Toolbox of Countermeasures and Their Potential Effectiveness for Pedestrian Crashes,” the Federal Highway Administration (46) evaluates the crash reduction effectiveness of different pedestrian safety countermeasures in three major categories: Signalization (e.g., countdown signals, exclusive pedestrian phasing), Geometric (e.g., roundabouts, refuge islands), and Signs/Markings/Operational (e.g., lighting, enforcement). These estimates, otherwise known as crash reduction factors, describe the ability of a particular treatment to reduce crashes involving pedestrians. Using these CRFs, engineers and other officials will not only know the anticipated crash reduction for a particular treatment, but will be able to select the appropriate countermeasure for a particular problem or circumstance.

Zegeer, Stutts, and Huang (216) developed NCHRP Report 500 “Guidance for Implementation of the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Volume 10: A Guide for Reducing Collisions Involving Pedestrians” to provide strategies that can be employed to reduce the number of collisions involving pedestrians. This goal can be achieved through the widespread application of low-cost, proven countermeasures that reduce the number of crashes on the nation's highways.

Antonucci et al. (4) present this collection of strategies that can be implemented to solve pedestrian safety problems at signalized intersections. The findings, published under the title “A Guide for Addressing Crashes at Signalized Intersections,” reflect the current best practices in addressing these types of crashes, and will provide practitioners with the knowledge necessary for selecting and implementing treatments to properly address their local needs.

A Resident’s Guide for Creating Safe and Walkable Communities by Sandt et al. (164) is a guide to help advocates, planners, health professionals, parents, and other community members promote pedestrian safety and walkability. Using current research, resources, and real life examples, the guide presents pedestrian safety knowledge to community members and outlines steps that can be taken to engage local officials on the issues. The guide includes information on identifying problems, taking action to address pedestrian concerns, finding solutions to improve pedestrian safety, and resources to get additional information.

Nabors et al. (133) have developed The Pedestrian Safety Guide for Transit Agencies intended to provide transit agency staff with an easy-to-use resource for improving pedestrian safety. The guide provides a comprehensive look at pedestrian safety issues that are influenced by transit operation. Some subjects highlighted in the guide include accessibility for those with disabilities, transit station design, and crosswalk placement. The guide also covers examples of countermeasures that have been successful in addressing pedestrian safety problems around transit stops and lines. Program recommendations, such as education or enforcement campaigns, are included as well.

“How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan”  by Zegeer & Sandt (218) was developed to assist local officials with understanding pedestrian safety and what is needed to strategically address local safety issues. It is also intended to assist agencies in further enhancing their existing pedestrian safety programs and activities, including identifying safety problems, analyzing information, and selecting optimal solutions. The guide also contains information on how to involve stakeholders, potential sources of funding for implementing projects and how to evaluate projects. The guide is primarily a reference for improving pedestrian safety through street redesign and the use of engineering countermeasures, as well as other safety-related treatments and programs that involve the whole community. This guide can be used by engineers, planners, traffic safety and enforcement professionals, public health and injury prevention professionals, and decision-makers who have the responsibility of improving pedestrian safety at the state or local level.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (139) defines the standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all streets and highways. The MUTCD is published by the Federal Highway Administration. The MUTCD audience includes the insurance industry, law enforcement agencies, academic institutions, private industry, and construction and engineering professionals.

The Traffic Control Devices Handbook (TCDH) was prepared by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) (87) to augment the MUTCD as adopted nationally by the Federal Highway Administration. While the MUTCD outlines the design and application of traffic control devices on public roadways in the United States, criteria and data to make decisions on the use of a device and its application are not always fully covered in the MUTCD. This Handbook bridges the gap between the MUTCD provisions and those decisions to be made in the field on device usage and application.

The Design and Safety of Pedestrian Facilities: A Recommended Practice of the Institute of Traffic Engineers, another publication by ITE (86), is intended to provide guidance on the design of various pedestrian facilities. The guidelines are presented in detail for program managers, engineers, and agencies, and are combined with suggestions for proper installation and location where installation would be most effective.

This handbook by Staplin et al. (178) entitled The Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians provides recommendations that upon implementation may remedy deficient designs that disproportionately penalize older road users due to changes in functional ability experienced with normal aging. These may be most urgently needed where a crash problem with older drivers or pedestrians has already been demonstrated; however, the greater benefit arguably lies in designing safer new roads and identifying and modifying problems with existing roads before statistics reveal a crash problem. The engineering enhancements described in this document should benefit all road users, not just older persons.

State/Local Guides

Alta Planning & Design (3) developed a technical reference that provides the staff of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with a synthesis of information on non-motorized transportation. This document is termed Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities in California: A Technical Reference and Technology Transfer Synthesis for Caltrans Planners and Engineers. It is intended that this technology transfer will assist Caltrans in accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists on the state highway system throughout California, serving as a resource on policies, laws, programs, the Caltrans planning and design process, guidelines, and best practices.

The City of Stockton, CA (25) created guidelines in order to address safety concerns, improve pedestrian safety, and enhance pedestrian circulation on neighborhood streets. This document, entitled “Pedestrian Safety and Crosswalk Installation Guidelines,” describes best practices on engineering elements, such as pedestrian crossing treatments and intersection design to be incorporated into the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP) and Street Design Standards. These best practices are presented via a comprehensive pedestrian safety strategy of engineering, enforcement, and education programs.

The Louisville Metro Complete Streets Manual, drafted by the City of Louisville (24) is a comprehensive design and planning document that is focused on providing accommodation for all road users in all new and reconstructed roadways using a context sensitive approach.

The Sacramento Transportation and Air Quality Collaborative (161) prepared a guide, entitled Best Practices for Complete Streets, to provide suggested street standards for use when designing new streets and developments and when planning for future transit corridors. Suggestions are provided for traffic calming features that can be built into street designs. Although its focus is on urban and suburban streets, the guidelines may be helpful in determining rights-of-way that should be preserved for successful transition to urban standards.

Training Courses and Workshops

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) offers courses and workshops on pedestrian safety for a variety of audiences with funding from the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One two-day designing for pedestrian safety course is intended for engineers and other technical professionals and gives an overview of common pedestrian problems and potential countermeasures. For a broader audience of planners, law enforcement officials, engineers, and decision makers, the two-day planning for pedestrian safety course offers a more general approach to the issue of pedestrian safety. A three day option is also available, which blends components of the two main courses. Finally, the Creating Livable Communities course addresses the needs of citizens, advocates, public health professionals, and others who want to make pedestrian safety a priority in their communities. All of the course descriptions, instructor information, and scheduling information can be found at http://www.walkinginfo.org/training/pbic/.

In “Developing and Implementing a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. Progress Report: September 2004 – December 2007,” Sandt, Gelinne, & Zegeer (163) present a progress report on the pedestrian safety training courses based on the guide How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. Courses based on that guide have been taught across the country to local engineers, planners, law enforcement officials, and other decision makers to educate them on pedestrian safety needs and strategies for increasing safety. A background is given on course development, and the Authors present information from course participants and evaluation forms. The courses received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and recommendations are made for increasing the number and availability of courses.

Turner et al. (189) developed a curriculum on pedestrian and bicycle transportation for a graduate level course to be taught to planners and engineers in universities across the US. Their course materials are published as FHWA University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. The 24 lessons included in the curriculum cover a broad range of topics, from an introduction to bicycle and pedestrian issues to the planning and designing of facilities and the development of successful bicycle and pedestrian programs. The lessons are intended to provide students with a knowledge of the role of bicyclists and pedestrians within a transportation system and an understanding of policy, planning, and engineering practices as they relate to bicycling and walking.

The National Highway Institute (NHI) offers a Pedestrian Facility Design Course, intended to provide information and application opportunities for those involved in the design of pedestrian facilities. The course focuses on both corridor issues and intersection design issues, leading participants through a series of lectures, discussions, and video demonstrations. The course is intended for engineers, planners, program specialists, architects, and other decision makers. http://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) offers a course on Designing Pedestrian Facilities for Accessibility. Based on the Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, the course covers all topics related to accessibility and planning or designing for all pedestrian populations. Topics include legal policies, sidewalk design, crossings, intersections, curb ramps, construction, maintenance, pedestrian signals, and temporary traffic control. http://www.apbp.org/?Access_Course


The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) offers bi-monthly webinars on various topics concerning pedestrian and bicycle safety and encouraging safe walking and bicycling. The webinars are intended for a diverse audience, from planners and engineers to advocates and public health professionals. Past webinar topics include “Fundamentals for Connecting Transit and Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities.” Upcoming webinars focus on advocacy strategies for communities who want to make pedestrian and bicycle safety a local priority. Past webinar presentations are archived at the PBIC Web site: http://www.walkinginfo.org/training/pbic/webinars.cfm.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) offers a wide selection of webinars on various topics related to pedestrian safety. These webinars, intended for transportation professionals interested in staying current with their knowledge of pedestrian safety issues, are typically offered as a set of modules covering a particular topic. In addition to courses covering best practices and current research, the ITE webinar series also offers refresher courses for Professional Traffic Operations Engineers (PTOEs) and other professionals. More information can be found at http://www.ite.org/education/webinars.asp.

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) offers a monthly webinar in their professional development webinar series. These webinars are intended for a variety of professionals, covering technical (MUTCD: Bicycle and Pedestrian Signs, Markings and Experiments), political (Building Political Will for Strong Bike/Walk Programs: Effective Use of the "Three-Legged Stool" model in Columbia, Mo.) and health-related topics (Connecting with Public Health Professionals on Bike/Ped Issues). More information can be found at http://www.apbp.org/?page=Webinars.

The Federal Highway Administration Safety Office hosts quarterly webconferences for its pedestrian safety focus states (states with pedestrian fatalities above 150 or a fatality rate above 2.5) and cities (cities with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities). The webinars (which are now open to the people outside of the focus state and cities as well) help the participants share information; help resolve problems participants are facing; assist participants in working toward common goals; and provide information on new tools, research, countermeasures, and technologies available to help solve the pedestrian safety problem.


The National Complete Streets Coalition (2006) conducted a Peer Workshop at the 2006 RailVolution Conference. The results are presented in html format, and summarize a workshop roundtable discussion on incorporating transit into complete streets policies and procedures. Experts from around the country each gave a mini-presentation on their work and issues relating to developing complete streets standards. It contains links to complete streets design guidelines developed by several cities.

The Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference is a biennial event hosted by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (NCBW), aimed at bicycle and pedestrian program specialists, advocates, and government leaders who want to make bicycling and walking a priority. Also present at the conference are engineers, planners, agency staff, and advocates. The next conference will be held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the Fall of 2010.

The Walk 21 Conference is an international gathering of advocates, researchers, and specialists in the field of pedestrian safety and mobility. The conference sessions allow these professionals from around the globe an opportunity to share information, present research findings, and learn valuable information on the latest in best practices for pedestrian safety and walkability. More information can be found at http://www.walk21.com/.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting is considered the premiere transportation conference for researchers in the US. Held each year in Washington, D.C., the conference draws significant numbers of researchers and practitioners from around the country. Within the TRB, the Pedestrian Committee uses this opportunity to meet and discuss business items, such as prioritizing research needs and developing research needs statements.


The “Pedestrian Forum Newsletter”, published by the Federal Highway Administration (42) is a quarterly newsletter that presents an overview of FHWA’s Office of Safety activities related to its goal of improving pedestrian safety. The newsletter highlights research and tools developed by FHWA, NHTSA, and other groups involving the 4 E’s: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Services. The newsletter also gives updates on revisions to existing guides and announcements of upcoming guide, toolbox, and software deployment.

The PBIC Messenger is the quarterly newsletter distributed by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Included in the newsletter are important updates on current research, tools, and best practices in pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as a guide to upcoming events, trainings, and webinars. More information can be found at http://www.walkinginfo.org/newsroom/newsletter/signup.cfm

The Bike/Ped Professional is the newsletter of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP). The newsletter updates APBP members on current activities around the country, including important projects and research. There are also a number of resources aimed specifically at professional development in multiple fields. More information can be found at http://www.apbp.org/.

The “Centerlines Newsletter,” a free publication by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking (138), is an online text publication that is published on a bi-weekly basis. Its primary goal is to disseminate news and new strategies for creating walking- and bicycle-friendly communities to interested individuals. With a subscription base of almost 4000 persons, including advocates, bicycle and pedestrian professionals, and others, Centerlines is a useful resource for keeping up with developments in the ped/bike community.


Harkey, Tsai, et al. (73) developed the “Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) (Version 2.11) [Software],” a crash typing software product intended to assist state and local pedestrian/bicycle coordinators, planners and engineers with improving walking and bicycling safety through the development and analysis of a database containing details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists.

Web sites

The Safe Routes to School Guide, a resource of the US Department of Transportation (204), was developed as a comprehensive guide to be used by anyone interested in Safe Routes to School (SRTS). Specifically, schools and communities who would like to start a program will find background information, an overview of programs, and case studies that highlight engineering, enforcement, encouragement, education, and evaluation programs. The guide also contains case studies that provide success stories from existing programs.

“The Pedestrian Safety Campaign” consists of a set of outreach materials that can be customized by States and communities for their own pedestrian safety activities. As a Federal Highway Administration (51) resource intended for practitioners and advocates in need of materials to enhance their safety campaigns, the Web site offers downloadable materials such as public service announcements (PSAs), posters, press releases, and brochures.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is a national clearinghouse that was set up by the US DOT to provide tools and resources for communities that are interested in increasing bicycling, walking, and safety in their neighborhoods. The Center provides knowledge and technical information to enhance Safe Routes to School programs around the country. More information can be found at http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center is the national clearinghouse for pedestrian and bicycle research, resources, and tools in the US. Established and funded by the US DOT, the PBIC manages two Web sites (www.walkinginfo.org, www.bicyclinginfo.org) devoted to collecting and disseminating important information related to walking and bicycling. Additionally, the Center hosts an image library (www.pedbikeimages.org), and offers other services such as training and technical assistance.

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) is a professional development organization intended to serve individuals who work in the areas of safety, promotion, education, enforcement, health, and planning, as those fields relate to bicycling and walking. APBP offers many services, including a comprehensive collection of tools and resources and professional development seminars and trainings related to bicycling and walking. More information can be found at http://www.apbp.org/.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) includes two offices relating to pedestrian and bicycle issues, one relating to the promotion of pedestrian and bicycle transportation and the other relating to issues surrounding pedestrian and bicycle safety. The FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Program (2009a) guides and oversees the implementation of pedestrian and bicycle legislation and ensures that states are in compliance with the legislation. Information about federal funding, funding sources, legislation, and accessible design can be found at https://wwww.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/. The FHWA Office of Safety’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Program (2009b) develops a variety of materials, programs, and projects for use in preventing and reducing pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. More information can be found at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/

Selected International Research and Reports

Muhlrad (130) presents a history and overview of pedestrian safety policies in Western Europe in his report entitled “A Short History of Pedestrian Safety Policies in Western Europe.” Focus is given to the gradually changing image of the pedestrian in the eyes of Western European communities, from an obstacle to a means of transportation.

Jensen (92) explores the history of walking and cycling among children in Denmark, and shows that the safety of children on the road has been improved by seat belt use and local measures. The study, termed “How to Obtain a Healthy Journey to School,” goes on to show the role that safe routes to school projects have played in establishing safety in jurisdictions through signalization and speed reduction measures. Additionally, Jensen shows that almost half of Denmark’s children live less than 1.5 km from their schools, which also influences mode choice and walking levels.

In “Safety and Accessibility Effects of Code Modifications and Traffic Calming of an Arterial Road,” Leden, Wikstrom, et al (107) analyzed the combined effect on driver behavior of changes to a roadway and changes to traffic laws in Sweden. In 1999 and 2000, pedestrian walkways, traffic islands, chicanes, a roundabout, and a two-directional cycle track were added along a major road in a busy community center. The purpose of the reconstruction was to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, primarily for children, the elderly and the disabled, and to reduce the barrier effect of a busy thoroughfare. In May 2000, traffic laws governing the conduct of drivers at marked crosswalks in Sweden became stricter to improve safety and mobility for pedestrians. Traffic behavior was studied at the intersection where the roundabout was constructed. Yield behavior towards pedestrians and child bicyclists changed significantly even though the code change only related to pedestrians. Measures of speed, behavioral studies, questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and crash data analysis suggest that safety has increased not only along the major roadway but also along adjacent roads.

Under a commission by the Land Transport Safety Authority, Macbeth, Boulter, and Ryan (118) reviewed research on New Zealand and international existing walking and/or cycling strategies, surveyed transportation professionals in local and regional councils, and described best practice from the perspectives of those involved. Their research was presented as “New Zealand Walking and Cycling Strategies – Best Practice.” Examples of best-practice content from existing strategies are used liberally in the research report to help illustrate the research findings.

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