Experience Brings Results

Improving pedestrian safety can be a community thing

Back in February, we turned a spotlight on pedestrian safety. The emphasis in that post was on the steps that both pedestrians and drivers can take to reduce the risks of deadly or injury-causing pedestrian-auto accidents. The ones commonly applied across the board included the importance of being visible, being aware and being patient.

Considering how prevalent pedestrian traffic is in and around the Portland area, it should come as no surprise that the government is engaging in some strong initiatives in an effort to elevate awareness about pedestrian safety. But in this post, we think it might be helpful to bring some attention to things whole neighborhoods can do to contribute to the cause.

Taking some guidance from the Oregon Department of Transportation, here are some suggestions for activities that community groups can employ to improve safety not only for walkers and bikers, but also for all road users.

  • Spot the problems. Every neighborhood probably has one corner or route that is worse than others when it comes to traffic. If you're not sure where it is in your community, walk around. When you spot a site, take out your cellphone or camera and shoot some photos or video.
  • Share the issue. Then, figure out what local agency or organization has responsibility for safety matters and bring the issues you've identified to their attention. Don't just take it the information to an office. Find the appropriate staff person and connect with him or her.
  • Engage others. As the saying goes, it takes a village. Sometimes the village of activism has to be created by rallying neighbors around the issue. Joining voices in expressing concerns through letters, emails or social media, makes it more likely concerns will see action. Reaching out to local media through news releases, online commenting, submitting photos and videos and writing letters to the editor can help, too.
  • Push for specific change. Create or join a local group focused on pedestrian and bicycling advocacy and coordinate with others to push safety improvements with elected officials or transportation planners. Ask officials how you can help them and then follow through.

Pedestrians have little protection from due to an inattentive driver. That makes preventing them all the more important. And it's something best done together.

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