When PEDS was founded in 1996, pedestrians were not on the region’s radar screen. Since then, we have increased driver compliance with crosswalk laws and prompted transportation agencies to improve street design and allocate more funding to pedestrian facilities so that streets can be shared safely with pedestrians.
Our activities are “institutionalizing” pedestrian safety. Put simply, we are getting local, regional and state agencies to accept pedestrian safety as their responsibility and to adopt policies needed to create a better environment for walking.
Increasing funding for sidewalks and safe crossings
- In 2010, we convinced the Georgia Department of Transportation to adopt a new formula for allocating federal safety funds. Pedestrians account for over 10 percent of all transportation fatalities in Georgia. As a result of this policy change, some $10 million per year in federal safety funds are now used for pedestrian safety projects we requested.
- PEDS prompted the Atlanta Regional Commission to audit the condition of sidewalks near transit stations and to research the proximity of pedestrian crashes to transit stops. Together, ARC’s audits and research confirmed the need for increased investment in sidewalks and safe crossings near transit stops. ARC followed through by creating a “last mile connectivity” program that is allocating $12.5 million per year to sidewalks and safe crossings on transit routes and in activity centers.
Reporting pedestrian hazards and promoting better infrastructure maintenance
- We developed an online hazard reporting tool that makes it easy for people to notify local governments about missing signs, burned out walk signals, and broken sidewalks. Together with volunteer activities we organized, the online tool has prompted government agencies and utility companies to eliminate hundreds of pedestrian hazards.
- We also created petitions and held forums that increased awareness among Atlanta elected officials of public demand for policy change and funding that supports better sidewalk maintenance. In 2012 the Public Works Department quadrupled its investment in sidewalk repairs.
Increasing driver compliance with crosswalk laws
- When we founded PEDS, drivers rarely stopped for pedestrians at crosswalks. To change driver behavior, we developed programs that incorporate the three E’s of pedestrian safety: education, engineering and enforcement.
- We developed educational materials about motorists’ responsibilities to pedestrians, convinced transportation engineers to install in-street crosswalk signs, helped convince the Georgia legislature to authorize the use of cameras to enforce red lights, provided workshops on pedestrian-friendly law enforcement, and collaborated with police officers and the media to implement crosswalk stings.
- We convinced the Georgia Department of Transportation to make high visibility crosswalks the state standard. In areas with a good street grid, far more drivers now respect the pedestrian right of way.
- On high-speed, multi-lane suburban roads, crosswalks are not enough. Signalized intersections are few and far between, so we worked with the media and provided technical assistance to transportation agencies and elected officials that prompted increased use of midblock median islands and HAWK beacons.
- We organized training workshops that helped transportation professionals learn the nuts and bolts of designing streets for pedestrian safety and accessibility.
- We created a multi-jurisdictional Safe Routes to Transit task force that developed regional guidelines for safe crossings at transit stops.
- We created and managed a KidsWalk to School program that increased awareness of the health benefits of walking to school and prompted more City of Atlanta and DeKalb County parents to walk their children to school.
- We helped Cobb County develop a countywide Safe Routes to School plan.
Curtailing speeding on neighborhood streets
- We developed educational materials that raised awareness of the impact of vehicle speed on the risk of pedestrian death. These include flyers distributed by police officers and neighborhood organizations, an anti-speeding video shown in movie theaters and on neighborhood web sites and advertisements that appeared on buses and gas pump handles.
- We promoted the use of speed radar signs and other effective tools effective for reducing speeding on neighborhood streets.
- We engaged 6,000 households in over 100 metro Atlanta neighborhoods in a SLOW DOWN yard sign campaign.