Wiki Wednesday: “Shovel-Ready” Pedestrian Safety Plans?

StreetsWiki author Andy Hamilton files this entry on an idea from our very own Federal Highway Administration: the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

crosswalk.jpgThe
concept includes a step by step methodology to identify and correct
pedestrian safety hazards, as well as to plan a more walkable community
from the ground up. FHWA developed a how-to guide, and contracted with
pedestrian design experts to provide 2-day or 3-day trainings to state
and local transportation departments around the country. This federal
effort was initiated when it was recognized that most traffic engineers
receive inadequate professional training to effectively address
pedestrian safety concerns.

From 2005 to 2007, FHWA
conducted 77 trainings in the 14 states that ranked highest in
pedestrian crashes. In some states, the trainings resulted in almost
immediate pedestrian safety improvement projects or evaluation efforts.

Implementing a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is not usually a high
priority for traffic engineering departments, and require consistent
advocacy from neighborhood organizations or elected officials.

Here’s
something to chew on. These trainings began more than three years ago
and have probably led to the creation of some actual safety plans,
which can get off the ground quickly. Shouldn’t a federal stimulus
package fully fund all of these projects before giving highway-addled states like Texas a dime for anything else?

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When St. Louis decided not to maintain colorful new crosswalks that residents had painted, the city’s pedestrian coordinator cited federal guidance. A 2011 FHWA memo warns that colorful designs could “create a false sense of security” for pedestrians and motorists. That may sound like unremarkable bureaucrat-speak, but the phrase “false sense of security” is actually a cornerstone of American engineering guidance […]