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Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety: Ensuring a Safe Alternative Mode of Transportation in Florida

Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety: Ensuring a Safe Alternative Mode of Transportation in Florida

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Published by Brian A. Salmons
Paper written for course "Transportation Planning", GPIDEA Community Development Master's Degree Program, Fall 2007.
Paper written for course "Transportation Planning", GPIDEA Community Development Master's Degree Program, Fall 2007.

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Published by: Brian A. Salmons on Mar 16, 2009
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03/03/2011

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PEDESTRIAN & BICYCLE SAFETY
ENSURING A SAFE ALTERNATIVE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION INFLORIDA
A paper prepared by the Paliwana-Guhdgrayd Policy Research Institutefor the Florida Department of Transportationand David Plazak’s Transportation Planning class (CRP545, Iowa State)
Brian A. SalmonsDecember 2007
 
CHALLENGES
As the popularity of walking and bicycling for health, leisure or as an alternate mode of transportation increases, so too does the risk for injuries and fatalities of pedestrians andbicyclists involved in traffic accidents with motorized vehicles. Or at least one would think so.The existing research on determinative factors in pedestrian and bicycle (PB) safety is generallyinconclusive, however some guideposts along the road towards PB safety can be discerned fromthe literature. While PB fatalities do not necessarily increase as a percentage of population(Dharmaratne & Stevenson 2004), travel demand does grow along with population. And becauseautomobiles are the predominant mode of transportation in Florida (as in the entire U.S.), anincreasing population means not only greater traffic congestion, but also more opportunities forPB fatalities, whether or not the modal share of PB itself increases. As the fourth most populousU.S. state, and likely the third most populous by 2011 (U.S. Census Bureau 2005), Florida iscurrently in the position of dealing with the adverse effects of skyrocketing population growthand will likely continue to deal with it in the long-range future. It is the purpose of this report toprovide a review of the existing literature on PB and to outline a vision for a multi-modaltransportation system promoting walking and bicycling as safe, alternative modes of transportation in the State of Florida.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS – A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Safety is arguably the central issue in bicycling and walking as modes of transportation.Discourse about pedestrian-friendly or bicycle-friendly communities inevitably focuses on thecommunity’s infrastructure and whether this provides a safe and efficient route to desired placeswithin the area. Communities without sidewalks, bicycle lanes or other PB improvements aregenerally not characterized as “friendly” to PB users because, quite simply, they are not safe.
 
With this in mind, a literature search on causative factors in PB safety was conducted, payingequal attention to studies on reducing fatalities at the level of the intersection or roadway and tostudies on the effect of larger-scale land use and infrastructure in fostering the growth of PB-friendly communities.The literature search consisted of a web-based search for articles using keywordcombinations expected to produce relevant results (e.g. “pedestrian” AND “fatalities” in anInternet search engine). In all, 36 articles were identified that addressed the issue of PB safety.Much more material is available on the topic of PB safety, however due to space and timeconstraints not all of it was considered for this study. Particularly, the literatures on theeffectiveness of helmet-use, and of technological improvements to automobile bodies, inreducing injury severity were not considered for this study (e.g. Thompson & Rivara 2001;Crandall, Bhalla & Madeley 2002). The reason for this is that these approaches are merelypalliative: they do not provide any guidance as to how to reduce the risk of collisions betweenpedestrians or bicycles and motorized traffic in the first place
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.From the 36 articles identified that address curative approaches to PB safety, three broadcategories of approaches were identified:
Education
Technology (including enforcement)
ReorientationThe first two, Education and Technology, concern the modification of the behavior of either pedestrians and bicyclists or automobile drivers, or both. Education, in turn, can be divided
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On a side note, a study comparing safety practices in Boston, Paris and Amsterdam found that low rates of helmetuse do not necessarily lead to higher fatalities (Osberg & Stiles 1998). Similarly, a study in Australia determinedthat PB safety is higher when pedestrians and bicyclists are abundant (i.e. safety in number) and suggested thathelmet laws may actually increase the safety risk for bicyclists by discouraging bicycle use (Robinson 2005).

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