past, it often took a tragic accident before a community
make improvements for pedestrians such as building sidewalks,
safe pedestrian crossings, and providing safe routes to
But that is changing, according to researchers at the Pedestrian
Bicycle Information Center, a center within the UNC Highway
People want to live in healthy communities where
they can walk,
bicycle, and socialize, said Charles Zegeer, director
of the Pedestrian
and Bicycle Information Center. In the quest to build
transportation systems many transportation engineers and
overlooked the most basic form of transportation - walking
- and now
citizens are demanding they go back and make improvements.
In an effort to help communities create pedestrian-friendly
environments, researchers at the Pedestrian and Bicycle
Information Center have released the Pedestrian Facilities
Users Guide. Created as part of a Federal Highway Administration
study, the guide contains useful information regarding how
to create walking environments, the main causes of pedestrian
crashes and ways to counter them, and engineering improvements
that can be made to improve the quality of life for all
Given all the health benefits of walking, every
examine its walking environment and look at this guide to
improvements could be made to make their streets safer and
for pedestrians, said Zegeer, the lead author of the
In 1999, approximately 4,906 pedestrians were reported
to have been
killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. That
to 11.8 percent of the total motor vehicle deaths nationwide
An additional 80,000 pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle
Traditionally pedestrian-related safety problems have been
addressed by analyzing police crash reports, and improvements
have been made only after warranted by crash numbers, said
Zegeer. The Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide helps planners
and engineers be proactive and identify safety problems
in an area before crashes occur, as well as to select treatments
for sites that have pedestrian crash problems.
Types of pedestrian crashes fall into 12 specific groups.
The guide provides a matrix of 47 engineering treatments
that are possible countermeasures for various crash groups.
Following the matrix is a detailed description of each crash
group, its potential causes and suggested countermeasures.
The guide also provides the purpose, considerations, and
estimated cost for each countermeasure suggested.
For example, if a city is having a problem with school
children crossing at an intersection where vehicles are
turning, transportation engineers could use the guide to
identify eight potential ways to solve the problem. Engineers
could then read about each of these eight countermeasures
and determine which would work best and get an estimate
of what the improvements will cost.
The guide also contains case studies from communities across
the United States, such as Asheville, N.C., Cambridge, Mass.,
Boulder, Colo., Fort Pierce, Fla., and Portland, Ore., that
have successfully made improvements for pedestrians. These
improvements include calming traffic and reducing speeds
through neighborhoods, revitalizing downtown areas, and
improving safety for kids near schools.
For transportation engineers and planners looking to build
walkways, and safe street crossings, guidelines for installation
The Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide gives citizens
and local officials the information they need and want in
a format that is readable and easy to understand,
said Peter Lagerwey, pedestrian and bicycle coordinator
for the city of Seattle and one of the guides authors.
This guide combines a lot of widely dispersed, existing
information with some new ideas to create a one stop
shopping manual that up to now has not existed.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
Phone: (919) 962-7803