October is one of my favorite months of the year. It brings with it cooler temperatures and colorfully changing trees, both of which make spending time outside more enjoyable. There is a new reason to add to my love for the month this year. Not only is it Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it also happens to be the inaugural National Pedestrian Safety month, a time to draw attention to a cause that is near and dear to my heart. We’re all pedestrians at some point during the day, and that’s why it’s so important that as the U.S. faces over 6,000 pedestrians deaths each year, we prioritize safer streets. Everyone deserves to enjoy time outside walking, whether for transportation, health or recreation.
I like to say that every trip starts and ends with a walkingi trip, even if it’s just a few steps out to your car or running to catch the bus. It’s the original form of transportation and can serve to provide mobility independence to every individual. Walking can create access to opportunities, build connections within a community and brings added health benefits to those who do it on a regular basis. In order to make sure that all communities can enjoy these benefits, it’s important that we create safer streets for people walking and the Road to Zero Coalition is working to do just that.
In celebration of National Pedestrian Safety month, the Coalition is drawing from its three-pillar strategy to highlight ways that all of those working in the space of transportation safety can help to create safer streets for people walking and moving:
- Doubling Down on Proven Countermeasures: We know what works to save lives on our streets. Reducing speeds, improving lighting conditions and maintaining crosswalks and pedestrians crossings are just a few to consider. Want to get started to identify areas for improvement in your community? Consider doing a walk audit.
- Accelerate the Adoption of Technology: We may not have flying cars, but new technology that can save lives is already here. Things like automated pedestrian detection systems, automatic emergency braking and speed limiters improve safety for people inside and outside of vehicles.
- Prioritizing Safety: Humans are bound to make mistakes, and that’s why it is so important that our streets are designed for forgiveness. One mistake shouldn’t cost anyone their life. A Safe Systems approach does just that, creating safer streets for all road users, no matter how they choose to travel.
Imagine the world we would see if even some of these changes were implemented widely. Parents could let their kids walk to school without worrying for their safety. People could access jobs, healthcare and more. Friends and family could enjoy outdoor strolls to connect and recharge. Simply put, there’s nothing pedestrian about pedestrian safety.
It’s important to note that I use the term “walk” as a catch-all for all the many ways that people move and get around, including using wheelchairs, walks, and other assistive devices.