Know your facts:
- A nationwide study found that 55% of Americans would rather drive less or walk more.
- 66% of Americans want more transportation options so they have the freedom to choose how to get where they need to go.
- The San Diego region was ranked fifth among 50 metropolitan areasin 2011 for pedestrian fatality rates.
- More than 40% of pedestrian deaths in 2007 and 2008 occurred where no sidewalk available.
- Bicyclists and pedestrians represent 12% of all trips nationwide, suffer 13% of fatalities, and receive less than 1% of federal funding.
For the short term, you have a couple of choices:
- Document particular locations where you feel unsafe. This is often called a walk audit. WalkSanDiego has a Walkability Checklist you can access online.
- Talk to your neighbors and find out if they fill the same way. If so, have them fill out the Checklist, too.
- If high vehicle speeds are your concern, learn more about traffic calming and low cost solutions. Mention these tools to the city when you call or meet with them. Some cities have traffic calming programs in place.
- Call the city where you live. Talk to them about your concern and give them a copy of your completed checklist. Meet with them onsite. Click here for a list of city contacts and information regarding how they respond to neighborhood concerns.
- Stay in touch with the city to find out what solutions are proposed and when they will be put in place.
- Learn more about Complete Street policies and design tools used to slow traffic.
- Don't give up! The changes won't happen over night, but they will happen if you are consistent. Read about communities who have successfully advocated for change.
For the long term, you can change policies, or the rules that govern how streets are designed. Go here for more information.
You can also:
- Get involved with a local community planning group to talk more about safe walking and to work together for change.
- Contact your City's Planning Department and ask for information about existing community groups.
- Keep working with the city to ensure the problem is addressed. Get other neighbors involved to spread the word!
- Gather a group of interested neighbors to create a coalition and monitor pedestrian safety issues within your community.
Adopt Complete Streets Policies
In San Diego, WalkSanDiego made recommendations for Complete Streets policies through the release of its Safe for All report. Learn more below.
- Plan streets to be safe for everyone. For years, traffic engineers have planned roadway design around Level of Service for the automobile - how efficiently cars will move through intersections and road segments at various times during the day. However, this doesn't really address other roadway users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. With a newly approved California manual, traffic engineers now have access to a methodology that considers all roadway users in estimating how a new design will function -- multi-modal LOS. The jury is still out as to how well this methodology performs, but the good news is that we are on the road to better balancing all of our needs.
- Consider allowing a little traffic congestion now and then. Currently, cities have policies that require them to provide roadway improvements should the Level of Service fall below certain conditions. However, cities have it within their power to change this, especially on downtown kind of streets where there is more pedestrian and bike traffic. Some cities within the region have already adopted similar policies.
- Slow cars down. Studies have shown that high speeds are a major deterrent to having more people get out of their cars to travel. WalkSanDiego recommends cities to be strategic and identify streets with speeds upwards of 35 mph. Once the streets are identified, look at tools to calm traffic, especially in areas near schools, downtown areas, and transit routes.
- Put roads on a diet. Did you know that roads can slim down similar to humans? It simply means that they lose a lane or two. In fact, cities across the country are learning the tremendous value of road diets. Imagine a standard road with 4 lanes of traffic - 2 lanes in each direction with a painted yellow lane in the middle and no bike lanes or sidewalks on the side. By eliminating a travel lane in each direction (by repainting the stripes), suddenly, there is room to have a bike lane and/or a sidewalk making the street safer for all users. Road diets have in fact been proven to reduce pedestrian crashes 29%. WalkSanDiego recommends that cities conduct a comprehensive assessment of roads that can be placed on a road diet and take action.
- Adopt a strategic plan. Cities around the U.S. who are successfully making valuable, lasting change to their roads are developing a strategic plan that prioritizes goals and specific actions. Charlotte, NC and Seattle, WA are two such examples with 5-year Transportation Improvement Plans. This allows staff and decision makers to create a specific, longer-term vision on outcomes they want for their streets and to plan accordingly.
- Ensure new development projects complete the street.
- Adopt a Complete Streets policy.