Find easy-to-install solutions, from traffic safety beacons and signs to street lighting
Every year, more than 5,000 pedestrians and bicyclists die on US roads. Cities have generally built those roads for cars, and only cars, for the last century or so. Most cities have not considered the idea of equitable, multi-modal transportation until much more recently. Safe routes for those walking, cycling, skateboarding, wheeling, pushing strollers, or otherwise traveling without a car is now a part of many cities’ Vision Zero or walkability initiatives—but the process is slow as we unravel the design issues piece by piece.
Unfortunately, unraveling doesn’t always happen equitably, either. Bridging the Gap, a 2012 Safe Routes to School National Partnership report, showed that 90% of high-income communities have one of the most basic types of infrastructure for walking: sidewalks. Meanwhile, only 49% of low-income communities have them. Similarly, the report showed 75% of high-income communities have street lighting, while only 51% of low-income communities do. Since low-income people have the highest rates of walking and cycling to work, and children from low-income families are more likely to bike or walk to school, the lack of sidewalks and lighting can make their routes more dangerous.
Adding these basic types of infrastructure equitably to all communities is a great place to start when making safer routes to work, school, shopping areas, parks, and much more. Here are some other pieces of traffic safety infrastructure to add to your safety initiatives.
- Pathway and park lighting: Parks bring communities together—and sometimes, they also act as a convenient shortcut through town. Proper lighting on park pathways and commuter trails helps increase the sense of safety when walking to work, school, or shopping areas. Try adding lighting on pathways children use to get to school. Learn more about pathway and park lighting.
- Street lighting: Whether the street has adequate sidewalks or not, visibility can be improved with proper lighting. With directional, warm-white street lights, glare is minimized to help make pedestrians stand out. Those walking can feel a sense of safety while traveling early in the morning or after dark. Learn more about street and roadway lighting.
- Parking lot lighting: For those who aren’t making the journey home on foot, the route to the car can still be safer with parking lot lighting that helps improve visibility for those on route to their vehicles as well as for other drivers navigating through the lot. Learn more about parking lot lighting.
- Crosswalk beacons: Whether your city is spec’d in for rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) or circular flashing beacons, these warning lights can help draw attention to crosswalks, especially mid-block ones. Try adding beacons on the route kids take to school or where people often jaywalk between stores in a high-traffic shopping district. Learn more about crosswalk beacons.
- School zone beacons: School zone flashing beacons inform drivers of upcoming school zones, helping slow traffic to allow children to get to and from school safely when walking or biking. Add solar-powered school zone beacons to existing signposts—retrofitting is the easiest way to enhance infrastructure without major construction. Learn more about school zone safety.
- Radar speed signs: Perfect for blind corners, high-traffic residential areas, or anywhere you need to slow down traffic quickly, radar speed signs help drivers self-correct—and even a 5 mph speed reduction can mean the difference between life and death for a pedestrian who is struck in a crosswalk or elsewhere. The resulting traffic calming is a key to improving community walkability. Learn more about radar speed signs.
- 24-hour flashing beacons: For intersections, blind corners, or anywhere that requires extra focus on the sign, 24-hour flashing beacons can help draw driver attention where it’s needed in the moment. Stop sign blow-throughs can be dangerous for pedestrians, so helping reduce these incidents can give everyone a better sense of safety in previously high-risk areas. Learn more about flashing beacons.
- LED enhanced signs: When used as an alternative to or in combination with flashing beacons, LED enhanced signs can be helpful in challenging locations where compliance is low or accidents have occurred in the past. Multimodal routes can be safer for everyone when drivers can focus on sign messaging to avoid potential incidents with those using other means of transportation. Learn more about LED enhanced signs.
|Tip: Many of these safety devices can be combined for a more robust solution at particularly challenging locations. Try an LED flashing yield sign before a roundabout, a radar speed sign before a school zone beacon, or a mid-block RRFB with new solar street lights to attract driver attention.|
Improving walkability in your community with a well-planned safety update can boost the local economy, reduce traffic congestion, and encourage community participation. Learn more about the benefits of adding outdoor lighting as well as traffic beacons.