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FHWA Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation

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Upon completion of the assignment, the students will be able to:

  1. Explain the difference between a crash and an accident.
  2. Explain the dynamics of the crash-avoidance process.
  3. Recognize the magnitude of the annual number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes.
  4. Explain several types of pedestrian and bicycle crash types and crash characteristics.





Secure a sanitized copy of a police accident report regarding a serious pedestrian crash and a serious bicycle crash. Discuss each crash with the class, considering each as a case study.


Present and explain the four lesson goals listed above (V-4-1).

Information Presentation:



Information Sequence

Outline the presentation of the lecture (V-4-2).


Explain the difference between the terms crash and accident. Emphasize that although accidents are not preventable, crashes are.

Explain the crash-avoidance process (V-4-3).

State the number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes (V-4-4).

Describe the different types of pedestrian and bicycle crashes. Characterize each of the different crash types in terms of age of victim, time of day of the crash, location of the crash, etc. (V-4-5 through V-4-9).


Much of the information transmission should be done by way of example. The viewgraphs reflect this.

Student Participation:




Use the activity provided in the student notes.


Provide comment and feedback to the class as appropriate.





Assign reading for Lesson 4.

Provide each student with a map of your local area. Ask them to delineate the area's designated bicycle routes or ask them to devise a safe route to a local elementary school.


Provide a summary of Lesson 4 (V-4-10).


Ask the students to complete the exercise at the end of Lesson 4 in their workbooks. This exercise is reprinted below for your convenience.

4.7 Exercise: Design a Countermeasures Program

Part 1

Design a program that specifically provides countermeasures aimed at reducing one (or more) common bicycle and/or pedestrian crash types. Countermeasures can include physical changes to the bicycle/pedestrian environment (engineered and constructed solutions), or education programs aimed at a particular audience that may be susceptible to certain crash types. Be specific about what the program would include, and how it would be implemented throughout a community. Include an explanation of how you would propose to evaluate the effectiveness of your program

Part 2

Using the data provided for the case study location, Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia, developed some conclusions regarding the crash data obtained through the State department of transportation (DOT) for 1995, 1996, and 1997 (see Figures 4.3 to 4.8). Cross-tabulations of crashes by time of day, location, and causation factors are helpful in gaining insight into safety problems and possible countermeasures. Data available for these type evaluations are often limited due to the low percentage of reported pedestrian accidents and bicycle crashes. However, important information can be obtained by a thorough analysis of available data

For the purpose of providing some general background on the case study location, the following descriptive information is provided

  • Piedmont Park is a large public park located approximately 3 miles north of the central business district in the midtown area of Atlanta.
  • The park is surrounded on all sides by densely populated residential neighborhoods.
  • Very little parking is available within the park and most park users arrive by foot, roller blades, skateboard, or bicycle.
  • The park has extensive walking, running, and bicycling trails, and these are the primary uses of the park. In addition, there are numerous festivals and special events.
  • Access to the park from surrounding neighborhoods is via surface streets, most of which have narrow (4-foot- to 5-foot-wide) sidewalks.
  • The park is bound on all sides by heavily traveled arterial roadways that commonly experience significant peak-hour congestion.
  • Two transit stations are located within walking distance near the park and frequent pedestrian access to and from the park is linked with the stations. Typical sidewalk and crosswalk treatments are used along surface streets (10th St. and 14th St.) to connect with the transit stations. Bicycles are allowed on transit fixed-rail vehicles during all operational periods.

Data provided for conducting a case study evaluation of pedestrian and bicycle conditions at Piedmont Park include the following information

  • Bicycle Crash Locations (Figure 4.3).
  • Pedestrian Accident Locations (Figure 4.4).
  • Site Location Map (Figure 4.5).
  • Tabulation of Pedestrian Accident Data (Figure 4.6).
  • Tabulation of Bicycle Crash Data (Figure 4.7).
  • Usage Data Collected at Major Park Entrances (Figure 4.8).
  • Summary of Major Roadways (Figure 4.9).

Part 3

Obtain pedestrian accident and bicycle crash data from your State DOT for a particular roadway or area of interest. You should obtain a minimum of 3 years of data in order to conduct your analysis of factors similar to those discussed in the Piedmont Park case study location. Although local city agencies sometimes maintain crash data, the State DOT is the most reliable source of available data. Most States maintain their crash data in a computerized database system and sorts of the data can be conducted on various field entries to list crashes associated with either pedestrians or bicycles. These types of crashes will only constitute a very small amount of the total crashes occurring along a roadway and it may be useful to receive a full listing of all the crashes associated with your location of interest. DOT's may only maintain data along the more significant roadways and often do not include subdivision/residential streets.

Most DOT personnel are very helpful and willing to work to get you the data you need. You should clearly explain your intentions, location of interest, and type of data that you would like to obtain. Submitting a request in writing is typically required so that your data request can be efficiently processed through their system. In addition to the crash data, you may need other information that will allow you to decode the crash data and to physically link the crash to a location on the roadway network. An accident/crash investigation manual is usually available that lists all of the coded entries used in creating aggregated crash tabulations. Also, a roadway features log is typically available to link milepost listings to physical map features such as intersections, bridges, and street names. In the initial phases of conducting an analysis of crashes, it is seldom necessary to access the actual crash reports. It is much more useful to utilize aggregated crash records that are available through the crash data system. Allow ample time for DOT personnel to accommodate your request within their day-to-day workload. Generally, data can be received in 2 to 3 weeks after submitting a request.

Solution Commentary

Part 1

Students could focus on the provision of specific countermeasures aimed at reducing some of the following common bicycle and/or pedestrian crash types:

Countermeasures for each of theses crash types may take some of the following forms:

Nighttime Crashes — One approach could be to institute a public education program that promotes the use of bicycle reflectors, reflector vests, and lights for the operation of bicycles during nighttime hours. This could be accomplished via a public awareness campaign, education program in local schools, reflector give-away program, bumper-stickers, or other similar means based on the target audience. Enforcement could be yet another initiative, although it may be difficult to convince local law enforcement to devote very much time to this effort given the demands of their profession. Physical improvements could involve the provision of improved street lighting in critical areas, such as on bike routes, sidewalks, and/or intersections.

Mid-Block Crashes — Consider the installation of "Share the Road" warning signs and/or bike route guide signs. Re-striping the outside lane to provide additional width and provision of a designated bike lane could be useful countermeasures for preventing crashes. Mid-block crossing markings, speed-control measures for motor vehicles, flashing beacons, bollards, and other traffic-calming treatments can be helpful in improving the roadway environment for both pedestrians and bicyclists, thus reducing the potential for crashes. Implementing measures to reduce motor vehicle speed can be beneficial to pedestrian and bicycle safety at mid-block locations.

Intersection Crashes — Enforcement aimed at improving adherence to traffic-control devices could be an option at problematic intersection locations. Physical improvements could include improved crossing zones, provision of pushbuttons for pedestrians and bicyclists, special pavement markings and lanes designating areas for turning and through bicycles to queue, special roadway features that help indicate the possible presence of bicyclists and pedestrians (e.g., raised intersection, islands, traffic bollards, signs, etc.), and improved lighting. Removal of obstructions to improve visibility may also benefit safety for all modes. Also, improved capacity, such as the addition of left-turn lanes can be useful in reducing erratic maneuvers on behalf of motor vehicle operators, thus improving safety for all within the intersection area.

Identification of Hazardous Locations — Problematic spot locations at bridges, busy roadways, bottlenecks, poor alignments, steep hills, etc. could be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Improvement of spot locations typically benefit the circulation of trips through the larger transportation network.

Crashes Based on Time of Day — Countermeasures aimed at reducing time of day- related crashes may address conditions related to rush-hour motor vehicle traffic that only occur for a short period of time each day. Improvements aimed at addressing these types of conditions may involve prohibiting on-street parking during certain periods, institution of special circulation patterns, special warning signs, modification of traffic signals, etc.

Measuring the effectiveness or performance of proposed countermeasures could include the following:

Analysis of Before and After Crash Data — This type of data can be obtained from most state departments of transportation over various periods of time. One problem exists in that many pedestrian and bicyclist crashes go unreported and do not show up in any agency databases. The exception to this would be for severe crashes where someone is either critically or fatally injured. These types of occurrences are often not representative of the risks that average users face on a day-to-day basis in utilizing the transportation system.

Conduct User Surveys and Evaluate Data — This is a time-consuming but useful method for obtaining meaningful data for evaluating perceived user risk and satisfaction with facility type. This type of data is best used at an aggregate level that allows stratification for a variety of factors, such as age, frequency of use, conditions of use, etc. The use of this subjective type of data can be effective in augmenting other objective data.

Observation at Spot Locations — Controlled observations that are used to quantify the level of conformance and other important user behavior provide very useful data for evaluating the effectiveness and/or need for improvement. Whereas most agencies maintain extensive databases on motor vehicle counts, speeds, classification, etc., very little data is typically available on pedestrians and bicyclists. For this reason, it is typically necessary to collect this time data on an as-needed basis, based on the characteristics of the conditions being evaluated.

Tabulation and Observation of Near Misses — This is also a useful method for quantifying the magnitude of operational problems at given locations. Data of this type is very useful in supplementing crash data available through official agency sources. Frequently, users of a problematic facility are compensating for a bad design through very cautious use and/or corrective actions made quickly on the spot that narrowly avoid the occurrence of a collision.

Spot Counts and Estimate of Exposure Measures — In order to make comparisons between various locations and to provide an indication of severity, it is necessary to develop, collect, and apply exposure measures with respect to occurrence data such as crash frequency. Often this can be effectively addressed through short-duration spot counts aimed at tabulating the number of users of various modes present at any given location of interest. Specific users such as rollerbladers, joggers, walkers, strollers, skate boarders, etc. could all be of interest based on their differing operating characteristics.

Part 2

Using crash data from Piedmont Park, the following cross-tabulations were developed

  Pedestrian (total 21) Pedestrian (total 21)
Intersection Mid-block Day Night
Frequency 18 3 11 10
Percentage 86% 14% 52% 48%

  Bicycle (total 14) Bicycle (total 14)
Intersection Mid-block Day Night
Frequency 13 1 10 4
Percentage 93% 7% 72% 28%

  Bicycle Crash Type
(total 14)
(total 14)
Sideswipe Angle Rear-end Head-on Injury PDO
Frequency 1 10 2 1 10 4
Percentage 7% 71% 14% 7% 72% 28%

Accidents and Crashes by Time of Day
Time Period Pedestrian (21) Bicycle (14)
4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 8 (38%) 9 (64%)
8:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. 7 (33%) 1 (7%)

Accidents and Crashes by Location
Location Pedestrian (21) Bicycle (14)
10th / Peachtree 4 (19%) 5 (36%)
10th / Juniper 2 (10%) 2 (14%)
10th / Piedmont 4 (19%) 2 (14%)
10th St. Total (East of Piedmont) 10/21 (48%) 9/14 (64%)
14th St. Total (East of Piedmont) 6/21 (28%) 2/14 (14%)
Total 14th & 10th (East of Piedmont) 16/21 (76%) 11/14 (78%)

It may also be useful to develop some motor vehicle exposure measures for bicycle/pedestrian crashes, such as bicycle/pedestrian crashes per million entering vehicles (mev) at various intersections or per million vehicle-miles (mvm) traveled for roadway segments along 10th Street and 14th Street. Additional exposure values could be developed from an extrapolation of the Human Powered Transportation sort counts taken at four of the park entrances. Use of the crash data with some exposure values should assist in creating meaningful comparisons between locations and help in identification of the most critical locations needing improvement.

From evaluation of the Piedmont Park data, the following insights were gained regarding the identification and understanding of safety problems and causation factors facing pedestrians and bicyclists in the area surrounding the park:

Based on observations from evaluation of the crash data, the following improvements are suggested as possible countermeasures for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety:

  1. Identify modifications needed to improve capacity, visibility, pedestrian/bicycle operations or other safety-related features at the three critical intersections of 10th/Peachtree, 10th/Juniper, and 10th/Piedmont. Possible improvements could include improved roadway alignment, lane additions, removal of on-street parking, sidewalk/crosswalk modifications, traffic signal changes, and/or enhanced signing/pavement markings. More detailed engineering studies would be necessary to analyze and design the most feasible and effective intersection improvements for each location.

  2. Evaluate the need for pedestrian improvements at the 14th/Peachtree intersection and along 14th Street. Likely improvements could include modification of the crosswalk configuration, installation of pedestrian signals/pushbuttons, removal of obstructions, sidewalk widening, increased visibility of pedestrian activities via construction of traffic-calming treatments, travel lane modifications, and/or adjustments to traffic signal phasing.

  3. Installation of traffic signs along roadways adjacent to the park that alert motorists of the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists, e.g., "share the road" and "pedestrian crossing ahead."

  4. Creation of signed bike routes or bike lanes to either route bicyclists away from problematic locations in the roadway network or to allocate space for bicyclists to operate in bottleneck areas, such as congested intersections and typical narrow roadway sections.

  5. Improved facilities for non-motorized transportation modes at major points of ingress and egress to Piedmont Park. This would also serve to make these more visible to the motoring public and possibly provide an added level of acceptance within the roadway right-of-way for non-motorized travel modes.

  6. Improved sidewalk continuity and driveway restrictions along primary routes of pedestrian access leading to and from Piedmont Park.

  7. Improved use of available right-of-way width along critical routes providing access to the park. This could involve widening sidewalks, removal of on-street parking, and/ or modification of travel lanes.

  8. Provision of traffic-calming measures to reduce motor vehicle speed along roadways adjacent to the park or critical routes providing access to the park.

  9. Education campaigns for bicyclists and motorists aimed at addressing problems related to mixed-mode operation along city streets during rush hour conditions.

Part 3

Lesson Objectives:

Lesson Outline:

Crash Avoidance Process:

Magnitude of the Problem:

Pedestrian Crash Characteristics:

Pedestrian Crash Characteristics (continued):

Bicycle Crash Characteristics:

Bicycle Crash Characteristics (continued):

Pedestrian/Bicycle Crash Types:

(Instructors should provide a series of slides here that directly illustrate the different crash types that are highlighted in the text of Section 4.6.)

Lesson Summary:


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Page last modified on February 1, 2013.
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