Take Action During Pedestrian Safety Month

Did you know that October is Pedestrian Safety Month? Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise in the United States in recent years, and Wisconsin is no exception.

Below are some ways you can be a part of ending the pedestrian safety crisis:

Start simple: if you drive, practice consciously driving at or below the speed limit (as appropriate for conditions) and brushing up on your pedestrian laws. Pedestrians have the right of way more often than many drivers think!

Speed is one of the most important contributors to pedestrian deaths and serious injuries, for two reasons. First, drivers at fast rates of speed (even just 30 miles per hour) have a more reduced field of vision than drivers going at more reasonable speeds. This means that pedestrians can be appear to “come out of nowhere,” when in reality a driver may have been going too fast for their brain to see them. Second, if a person is hit at faster speeds, the force of impact on their body is more significant. This is why you will see support for “Twenty Is Plenty” in many Vision Zero cities.

The impact of speeds on drivers’ field of visions, from the Vision Zero Network

October was also host to a Week Without Driving, a challenge led by Disability Mobility Initiative and America Walks. Everyone was challenged to ditch the car keys for a week and reflect upon how lack of access to a car changes your life, even for a short time. Even if you missed the official week, it’s always a good time to try this challenge on your own.

Try conducting a walk audit (AARP has some of the best resources out there). Try this near a place you care about, such as home, school, work, or one of your favorite businesses. Walk audits can involve larger areas, or even diving deep into just one intersection. Audits have the benefit of helping you to get outside of your personal experience of walking. Consider sharing your results with elected officials, your local city staff, and even neighbors or business owners.

Walk audit got you fired up? Learn the process of requesting improvements such as stop signs, leading pedestrian intervals, or curb extensions at an intersection you find difficult to cross. This might involve reaching out to your elected leader or finding a program such as Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program. Be persistent, do your research, and communicate with others who might care.

As always, let your local and state elected leaders know that investments in improving pedestrian safety is important to you. Your voice does matter, and often we are so desensitized to the danger and inconvenience of walking and rolling on our streets that we assume it is normal to not feel safe crossing a street. This is not normal, and our decision-makers, businesses, schools, and neighbors need to hear from you that this is a priority. Live in Milwaukee County? Get involved with MilWALKee Walks! Our work will be slowing down a bit in the colder months, but check out our events calendar. Feel free to reach out to marybeth@wisconsinbikefed.org if you live in Milwaukee County and want to connect. Or fill out our volunteer interest form to get information about new events.