Education and encouragement are essential components of a well-rounded pedestrian program. These initiatives inform, inspire, motivate, or reward people for using active transportation. Effective pedestrian safety education begins at an early age, is age-specific, and continues through the years across all modes. Motorists who are educated about pedestrian safety contribute to a safer, more pleasant walking environment for pedestrians; this environment enables and encourages more people to walk. Well-developed safety campaigns and messages must be reinforced by well-designed roads and law enforcement to reinforce safety messages. Encouragement programs can be fun and inclusive in seeking to establish good habits or change unhealthy or unsafe habits.
Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs promote safe and active habits for life. They encourage children to walk or bike to school, create safety in numbers, increase parent involvement, give kids a sense of belonging, and even help kids eat breakfast on time.
- National Center for Safe Routes to School provides resources for numerous SRTS activities.
- Fort Collins, CO, produces an annual summary of SRTS activities and has a goal to provide in-depth SRTS programming to every K-12 school once every three years.
- Austin, TX, has a Safe Routes to School program that benefits from, and works in tandem with, the Public Works department’s Child Safety Program. Plus, the city has an exemplary crossing guard program.
Public Education and Safety Campaigns
Education and encouragement programs can communicate the benefits of walking, as well as the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and motorists, to school children, residents, and visitors. Walkable communities can be cultivated by educating all roadway users to interact safely.
- Pedestrian Education Guides
- NHTSA Everyone is a Pedestrian Campaign
- Countermeasures that Work, Chapter 8
- The Charlotte, NC, Department of Transportation, in collaboration with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, is a community partner in the statewide Watch for Me NC campaign, sponsored by North Carolina Department of Transportation.
- SmartTrips, in Eugene, OR, uses innovative, personalized “travel toolkits” to reach residents.
- In Denver, CO, the Mayor, joined by transportation, safety, and school officials, launched a citywide public safety awareness campaign, “Heads Up,” works to create a culture that embraces multi-modal transportation by encouraging every person in the city to take responsibility for their actions while walking, biking, or driving in Denver.
Training for Staff
Ongoing education for professional staff underscores the priority a community places upon the importance of walking, walkability, and pedestrian safety. By educating public officials communities can help ensure that ordinances and policies that support walking are actually implemented.
- PBIC training courses and webinars
- Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Training
- Planning and engineering staff from Essex Junction, VT, attend the annual Chittenden County Walk/Bike Summit, hosted by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Local Motion to discuss innovative road and sidewalk projects, effective advocacy tactics, and project successes.
- Safe Routes Philadelphia partnered with the Office of Health, Safety and Physical Education to hold trainings that cover the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum designed for PE teachers working in elementary schools.
- Columbia, SC, hosted an Innovative Design Training for city staff and other interested professionals. The all-day event presented national trends in innovative bicycle and pedestrian design – including emerging treatments and national best practices.
Encouragement Programs and Incentives
Encouragement programs can be fun and inclusive ways to establish good habits or change unhealthy or unsafe habits. A combination of education and encouragement efforts can have a large effect on pedestrian volumes as well as pedestrian safety in a community.
- Balancing Engineering, Education, Law Enforcement and Encouragement
- PBIC’s Strategies to Promote Walking
- Santa Barbara, CA, Car Free is a project of the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District with support from the City of Santa Barbara, Amtrak California, and other partners. It encourages car-free travel through discounts and by providing information on walkable destinations.
- Evanston, IL, has the Women Out Walking (WOW) program, a 12-week program that encourages women to lead healthier lifestyles. The program, now in its twelfth year, is hosted by the Health and Human Services Department.
Open Streets Events
Walking-focused events or activities offer opportunity, incentive, and support for individual behavioral change. Special events and ongoing activities, such as Open Streets, Sunday Parkways, and Cyclovias can make walking exciting, fun, and social and can create a critical mass of walkers that can attract more walkers.
- The Open Streets Project is a great resource for information on running an Open Streets program.
- PBIC on promoting Car Free Days
- Open Streets Minneapolis brings together community groups and local businesses to temporarily close major thoroughfares to car traffic, and open them up for people walking, biking, skating, and playing.
- Charlottesville, VA’s Bike Walk Play JPA event is organized by neighborhood volunteers and closes a portion of Jefferson Park Avenue in the southwestern part of the city.
- Atlanta, GA’s Streets Alive event closes at least two miles of street for four hours and the route rarely stays the same. The event is organized by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, with support from business sponsors, and it is held multiple times a year.
Wayfinding and maps
Communities that provide information about places to walk may enjoy higher rates of walking. Signs, maps, and tours indicate a community’s support for walking culture and are a good way for municipalities to encourage and facilitate walking for many different purposes, including recreational, utilitarian, and fitness walking trips.
- In Philadelphia, the Walk!Philadelphia system includes disk maps at midblock locations with “You are Here” stars that show the center of a 10-minute walking radius. Center city also has directional signs for nearby destinations on each corner.
- Wilsonville, OR, has a walk and bike map that helps people pick out a comfortable route.
- Shorewood, WI, has a printed map that shows walkable destinations. This map is included in new resident welcome packets.