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Improving the pedestrian safety playbook graphics

Previously on Bike Walk Life, we took a look at the glaring shortcomings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Pedestrian Safety Month” campaign. I use scare-quotes because the campaign was seemingly premised on finding ways to blame pedestrians for their own deaths. We’re at a point in history where pedestrian deaths are rising, and it’s not because the people on foot are becoming more dangerous. It’s because of our collective failure to build safe cars and streets.

In response to this, AmericaWalks recently took it upon themselves to create alternative pedestrian safety graphics. They encourage sharing these images, so that’s what I’m going to do!

The truth is that we know what it takes to save lives and blaming pedestrians isn’t it. We’re going to keep pushing USDOT and NHTSA to use their authority to make it safe for those walking and moving on our streets. It’s time for a new pedestrian playbook with real action, not victim blaming.

We took the liberty of rebutting some of NHTSA’s graphics from their Playbook. Feel free to use and share:

Drivers: Pedestrians are everywhere. Slow down and be on the lookout for them, particularly during low-light situations, near intersections, and in high pedestrian-traffic zones, including commercial districts, near schools and in neighborhoods. Always stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, even unmarked ones. Remember your car can be lethal.

Distraction is a two-way street, but drivers carry an extra burden and responsibility for keeping our streets safe in light of the massively disproportionate impact they have in any pedestrian-vehicle crash. Expect people to act erratically. Slow down. Pay attention. Stop at crosswalks. Put your phone down.

Older pedestrians. It's your elders crossing the street. Older pedestrians tend to be more vulnerable to pedestrian crashes because of inadequate infrastructure and policies that make it far too difficult to walk. Simultaneously, the oldest and youngest people in our communities are those least likely to be able to drive safely. We need to plan our cities and our streets with the full spectrum of humanity in mind so that people of all ages and abilities can navigate them safely.

Walk to school safe. I want to be able to walk to school... safely. There has been a dramatic drop off in walking to school over the decades, based in part in the inaccessibility of these institutions by foot, and other odd policies like schools not allowing people to arrive on foot. It's time we invest in safe routes to school, change cultural norms at schools, and create more walking school buses. This will also enhance mental performance and daily physical activity among our youth.