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FHWA > Programs > Office of Policy > Office of International Programs  > Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility in Europe > Introduction

Introduction

In May 2009, a team of 12 transportation professionals from the United States with expertise in bicycling and walking visited five countries in Europe (table 1) to identify and assess effective approaches to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility. The countries were chosen because of their innovative approaches to nonmotorized transportation, as well as the potential transfer–ability of their policies and practices. Some, like Denmark, had experienced an increase in car use in the 1960s and 1970s, and subsequently reoriented their transportation policy to give priority to bicycling and walking. The scan team heard presentations from and had informal discussions with the foreign hosts. During most visits, the scan team also went on guided field visits (by bike as well as by foot) to better understand and experience the design and operation of various walking and bicycling facilities. These field visits were invaluable in documenting the facilities through photos and video, observing traffic behavior, and experiencing firsthand how well a design or operational strategy worked.

Table 1. Hosted locations for the pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility scanning study.
Countries Visited Localities Visited
Sweden Lund and Malmö
Denmark Copenhagen and Nakskov
Germany Berlin and Potsdam
Switzerland Bern and Winterthur
United Kingdom London and Bristol

The scan team identified numerous possible approaches to improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility in the United States. The scan team also prepared a list of implemen–tation items for approaches that should be pursued in the United States. An executive summary (released June 24, 2009) provided a quick response overview of the team’s findings and recommendations. This final report describes the scan team’s findings and recommendations in more detail.

Background

There is increasing recognition of the need to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety. In 2008, the United States had 4,378 pedestrian and 716 bicyclist deaths, accounting for 14 percent of all U.S. highway fatalities. The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Safety has established pedestrian and bicyclist safety as one of its top priorities. Two other priorities, intersection safety and speed management, are issues that also significantly affect pedestrians and bicyclists. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), an association of State transportation departments, has identified two of the top 10 goals in its Strategic Highway Safety Plan as "making walking and street crossing safer" and "ensuring safer bicycle travel."

FHWA has recently launched two new programs targeted at increasing pedestrian and bicyclist travel and improving safety. Safe Routes to School is a $612 million national program with the majority of funds devoted to infrastructure improvements. The Nonmotorized Pilot Program, which provides $100 million to four communities to improve bicycling and walking facilities, aims to evaluate how improved walking and biking facilities can carry a significant portion of the urban transportation load.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this scanning study was to identify and assess effective approaches to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility. The specific topics of interest were the following:

  • Improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety—Approaches (engineering, education, and enforcement) that have been successful in improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. These approaches can include both infrastructure and policy.
  • Safe Routes to School programs—Approaches and policies for improving safety for child pedestrians and bicyclists, especially those that support programs like Safe Routes to School
  • Monitoring usage levels and exposure—Quantitative methods of monitoring pedestrian and bicyclist usage levels (for example, counts and surveys) and exposure to crashes
  • Safety research and evaluation—Recently completed or ongoing research and collaboration opportunities in pedestrian and bicyclist safety

Amplifying questions (see Appendix A) on these topic areas were sent in advance to each host country. The amplifying questions informed the hosts about the scan team’s focus areas and provided some structure to host country presentations and discussion.

Host Country Information

Over the course of 2 weeks, the scan team met with national and local officials in 10 cities in five host countries (see table 1). A travel itinerary and meeting schedule is in Appendix B. A list of contact persons for each host agency is in Appendix C.

Scan Team Members

Figure 1. Photo of pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility scan team.
Figure 1. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility scan team (front row, left to right: Charlie Zegeer, Shawn Turner, Kit Keller, Priscilla Tobias, Diane Wigle, Cindy Engelhart; back row, left to right: David Henderson, Jon Kaplan, Ernie Blais, Ed Fischer, James Mackay, Gabe Rousseau).

The 12 scan team members (see figure 1) represented Federal agencies, State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), research agencies, and a professional organization:

  • Edward L. Fischer (AASHTO cochair), Oregon DOT
  • Gabe K. Rousseau (FHWA cochair), FHWA
  • Shawn M. Turner (report facilitator), Texas Transportation Institute
  • Ernest (Ernie) J. Blais, FHWA Vermont Division
  • Cindy L. Engelhart, Virginia DOT
  • David R. Henderson, Miami Dade County MPO
  • Jonathan (Jon) A. Kaplan, Vermont Agency of Transportation
  • Vivian M. (Kit) Keller, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)
  • James Mackay, Bicycle Technical Committee, National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  • Priscilla A. Tobias, Illinois DOT
  • Diane E. Wigle, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Charlie V. Zegeer, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center

Contact and biographical information for the scan team members is in Appendix D.

Report Organization

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of various innovative approaches that other countries have used to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, as well as to recom­mend specific implementation elements that are most likely to improve the safety and mobility of pedestrians and bicyclists in the United States.

Chapter 2 provides a discussion of the broad issues and themes that emerged on the scan and provides a context for understanding the details provided in later chapters of the report.

Chapters 3 through 8 have been organized around a familiar categorization—the 3Es: Engineering, Education, and Enforcement—but it has been expanded to include two additional Es, Encouragement and Evaluation.

  • Chapter 3 contains information on engineering and facility design topics.
  • Chapter 4 addresses safety education.
  • Chapter 5 includes enforcement approaches.
  • Chapter 6 discusses the encouragement and promotion of walking and biking as sustainable travel modes.
  • Chapter 7 includes information on the evaluation of walking and biking programs (such as monitoring and reporting usage and progress toward policy goals).
  • Chapter 8 provides the scan team’s recommendations and implementation plan.

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