Thursday, March 22, 2012

Crosswalks and Crashes: What we DO know

Adam Choit's short film about his attempts to get a crosswalk on Sunset Boulevard, and the LA DOT's subsequent response, have reminded us once again how easy it is for traffic engineers, policymakers, and others to blithely cite "studies" proving how dangerous marked crosswalks are without technically, to use a scientific phrase, "having the slightest clue what they are talking about."

Happily, a recent publication from the Oregon DOT includes a nice summary--with citations--of the latest research on crosswalks, pedestrian crashes, and what the research really shows:

  • Drivers are less likely to yield to pedestrians when approaching non-signalized crossings at higher speeds (Gårder 2004)
  • Higher traffic volumes are associated with more pedestrian crashes at intersections and uncontrolled crossings on arterial and collector roadways (Zeeger et al. 2006; Harwood et al. 2008)
  • The number of non-residential driveways within 50 feet of an intersection is positively associated with pedestrian crashes (Schneider et al. 2010)
  • The number of commercial retail properties within 0.1 miles of the intersection is positively associated with pedestrian crashes (Schneider et al. 2010)
  • The percentage of residents living within 0.25 miles of the intersection that are younger than 18 is positively associated with pedestrian crashes (Schneider et al. 2010)


  1. HELP !!!!!!!!
    I need all the help that I can get.
    April 2, 2006 I was a pedestrian in Louisville, Kentucky when I was crossing a street and struck by a motor vehicle. The impact threw my body 100 feet breaking my Rt. Hip, pelvis,left leg, left ankle, scapula, rib. The vehicle fled the scene never to be found. Being I was now a victim i applied to the Kentucky Crime Victims Compensation Board for compensation of lost wages and medical expenses. Which was denied by the board because Kentucky crime victims compensation board considers a Pedestrian Vs. Automobile "HIT and RUN" as a "Traffic Accident". I am living proof their is nothing "accidental" about a "HIT and RUN". Statuary by Kentucky Revised Statues a "HIT and RUN " in Kentucky is a class D Felony.
    I need support to get the law changed on the operation of the Kentucky Crime Victims Compensation Board to recognize Pedestrian Vs. Automobiles "HIT and RUN's" as a criminal offense.
    Yes I have three TV news stories and 1 news paper story on this subject. My Kentucky Representatives refuse to communicate with me on this matter. I would be willing to assist ant one to get this problem fixed. Louisville alone had 400 pedestrians Hit in 2011, Kentucky is 7th in the nation for Vehicles to hit pedestrians and flee the scene.

    Sincerely and Respectfully
    Dennis Pastor
    Dennis Pastor / Facebook (Kentucky)

  2. Hi Dennis--
    Sounds like you've had a rough few years. I'm not as familiar with the specifics of the law outside of California, but we certainly struggle here with low or non-existent penalities for pedestrian crashes--even when they aren't hit-and-run.

    That said, changing law at the state level can be very challenging for a number of reasons (e.g. state-level legislators have a broader set of constituents to answer to). Some thoughts on moving forward:

    1. Tell a compelling story. I think you've already got this one covered, but the more facts and testimony you have to explain why this issue is important, the better.

    2. Gather support from partners. Are there local bike/walk groups who might be interested in joining you? Others (environmental groups, public health advocates) interested in complete streets? The more voices you can add to your cause, the better then chances that you'll get the ear of your representatives.

    3. Find an advocate at the state level. See if you can figure out which representatives are particularly interested in transportation/pedestrian issues, and contact them (I suggest starting with their local office) to see if they would be willing to help you.

    Finally, you might want to contact some of the national advocacy groups (e.g. AmericaWalks) to see if they have been working at all on these issues and/or have partners in your state.

    Feel free to email me (see contact info under "About Me") if you'd like to discuss further!

  3. Would you mind including a link to the Oregon DOT publication itself, too?

  4. Hi Heidi--
    Sure, should have done that to start with. There's actually a summary of it in my latest post on pedestrian research, but you can also find the document here:

    It's called Evaluation of Alternative Pedestrian Control Devices