From haikus to mannequins to flags, cities across the country are thinking outside the crosswalk and making every effort to keep pedestrians safe. Major cities like Chicago, New York and Seattle are blazing the path by repurposing everyday objects, commissioning artwork and creative writing, and even offering monetary incentives to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.
Last month, the Chicago Department of Transportation launched a multi-part citywide awareness campaign called “It’s Up to You.” Thirty-two faceless store mannequins were placed around the city to represent the 32 pedestrians killed in Chicago traffic accidents in 2010. Each mannequin wore a t-shirt that says, “One of 32 pedestrians killed last year in Chicago.”
As a follow-up to this awareness campaign, Chicago has placed “crossing-the-street“ flags in plastic holders at crosswalks of intersections near schools, senior citizen centers and hospitals that have no traffic signals or stop signs. Pedestrians simply pick up a flag to signal that they are about to cross, carry the flag as they cross, and return it to the flag holder on the other side of the street.
New York City is using an ancient form of Japanese poetry to urge motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians
to think about safety. This creative New York City Department of Transportation safety education campaign is called “Curbside Haiku.” The city has installed 216 signs featuring colorful artwork and haiku by artist John Morse at high-crash locations near cultural institutions and middle and high schools citywide. The signs use creativity and brevity to draw attention to the critical importance of shared responsibility among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in keeping New York City’s streets safe.
In Seattle, pedestrians can win a $500 gift certificate if they take their city’s safety pledge. Seeking to reduce collisions on Seattle’s busy streets, the Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign urges Seattle residents and visitors traveling through downtown to “Take it Slow.” Center City is home to more than 182,700 commuters, major destinations such as Pike Place Market and an array of seasonal attractions such as the Holiday Carousel. The campaign uses posters in
store windows, coasters in restaurants, and bus ads in bright neon colors with the slogan, “See You in the Crosswalk.” People shopping in the area who visit participating stores and take the safety pledge will be entered to win a $500 gift certificate redeemable at select stores listed on the campaign’s web site.
Improving safety is a cornerstone of Arlington County pedestrian programs, from building wide, well-lit sidewalks that are free of tripping hazards and obstacles, to reducing the risks posed by automobiles through "traffic calming" and wayfinding signs, and ensuring that school children have safe, accessible routes to neighborhood schools. Pedestrian safety also includes educational programs like Street Smart and local and regional law enforcement efforts.
WalkArlington, an initiative of Arlington County Commuter Services within the Department of Environmental Services, gets "more people walking more of the time" by promoting the health, environmental, community-building, and commuting benefits of walking.