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FULL REPORT (2.38 mb)

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47 Engineering Treatments from the Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide available in design & engineering.
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Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide

In the past, it often took a tragic accident before a community would make improvements for pedestrians such as building sidewalks, installing safe pedestrian crossings, and providing safe routes to school.

But that is changing, according to researchers at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, a center within the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

“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 sophisticated transportation systems many transportation engineers and planners 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 citizens.

“Given all the health benefits of walking, every community should examine its walking environment and look at this guide to determine what improvements could be made to make their streets safer and more friendly for pedestrians,” said Zegeer, the lead author of the guide.

In 1999, approximately 4,906 pedestrians were reported to have been killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. That translates to 11.8 percent of the total motor vehicle deaths nationwide that year. An additional 80,000 pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle collisions.

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 sidewalks, walkways, and safe street crossings, guidelines for installation are also included.

“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 guide’s 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