New guidelines for pedestrian safety focus on preventing crashes before they happen - Mobility Lab

When a city tries to improve pedestrian safety, most of the time they’ll take what’s called (informally) the “hot spot” approach. With limited funds, this method improves one particular area – a mid-block crosswalk or an intersection, for example – where a person walking had previously been hit by a vehicle.

The problem with this approach, however, is that fixing areas where a pedestrian crash occurred doesn’t account for risk factors present in other areas. If pedestrian crashes rarely happen in a city, improving the one spot where the crash happened doesn’t protect people walking in a high-risk area.

A better approach is a systemic approach, according to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)’s new analysis. A systemic approach – looking at pedestrian infrastructure as a network – “enables transportation agencies to identify, prioritize, and select appropriate countermeasures for locations with a high risk of pedestrian-related crashes, even when crash occurrence data is sparse,” according to the report.

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