General Question

bkburbo's avatar

What can cities do to improve pedestrian-vehicle relations?

Asked by bkburbo (251points) September 28th, 2008

Where “vehicle” means a bus, car, bike, truck, etc.

What can pedestrians do? What can bikers do? What can drivers do?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

Celeste00's avatar

I’d love to hear what cities can do to improve bike/car relations, since there seems to be a lot of room for it around here.

I’m fine as a pedestrian.

marinelife's avatar

It would be nice if driver’s education courses were formalized and included an emphasis on the differences like needed braking distances, etc.

Also, we should probably have children take road safety courses when biking.

Motorcyclists should receive instruction rather than just have to take a test too.

jballou's avatar

I think that if cities performed vigilant study of their intersections, it would help a lot. I know here in San Francisco, there are plenty of “Yield to Pedestrians” signs which go completely ignored by drivers, especially on Geary (which is an extremely busy street).

As a pedestrian, crossing the street at these intersections can literally be life-risking. And for drivers, the “Yield to Pedestrians” signs are completely unexpected. When the speed limit is 45 and there’s no stop sign or stop light, you would have no reason to ever assume you might need to stop suddenly because of pedestrians. It’s a nightmare for both drivers and pedestrians.

Even a cursory investigation would expose this dangerous situation, but it’s been this way for years and years. Perhaps at the time when it was conceived, there wasn’t much pedestrian foot traffic to consider, but over time this has changed. The city needs to keep up with this change.

wundayatta's avatar

In Europe there are cities where they get rid of all street marking; all curbs, and all traffic signals. When baby strollers are using the same space as big trucks, you can be sure the trucks are real careful. It creates, they say, a much more civilized city. So far, I think, it’s been tried in smaller towns.

Another thing that helps, although maybe not with pedestrians, is the traffic circle. In Maryland and in New Hampshire, they’ve been taking out intersections abd putting in traffic circles, and while traffic goes slower, the throughput is faster. In towns, I think this could be beneficial for pedestrians, too, by slowing traffic a bit.

For bicyclists, I’d like to see lights timed for bicycles; stricter enforcement of bike lanes (keeping cars from parking in them), and make cars give bikes the right of way. Bikes should be treated by government as a kind of an efficiency thing. To encourage bicycling, bikes should get preference over cars on roads. Then they wouldn’t have to ride on sidewalks, risking pedestrians.

augustlan's avatar

I got hit by a car when I was 15 years old, crossing at an intersection. In my home town, we get at least 1 pedestrian fatality a year. As you can imagine, I’ve given this issue a lot of thought.
As almost all stop lights are “turn right on red” many intersections are especially dangerous for peds. Larger vehicles like buses and trucks often block the driver’s sight-line for peds crossing to the right of them.
One thing that I think would really help with pedestrian / vehicle interaction is to do away with crosswalks at intersections on busy, wide streets. Instead, there should be pedestrian crossings with stop lights and crosswalks in between intersections. The pedestrian would press a button, the stop lights would turn yellow, then red, and a “WALK” signal would light up. I particularly like the newer “WALK” signals I’ve seen, that count down the seconds remaining on the light cycle.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Well, I can’t wait to read the answers here as I’m hoping someone has an answer to this.

In my sleepy village in WI, we have BIG problems with traffic ignoring the pedestrian signs in the middle of the roads & the stop signs. Luckily, many residents are wealty, so our police force can take some time from their busy days to patrol the stops and the pedestrians.

Right now, some parents have gotten together w/a Trutee to begin a “flag” program…a tupbe filled with little orange flags is attached to poles on weither side of the street. When you want to cross you grab a flag, wave it then park the flag in the opposite post. I don’t know how it’s working…because, I don’t feel safe during peak traffic times crossing with my little one.

@augutian, I really like your idea! And, (here I live in a little “safe” village) I LOVE how safe I feel when we spend a weekend in Chicago because of those countdown signs.

augustlan's avatar

@Spatzie: That flag idea is a good one. I bet in a city, though, people would steal them. Why? Now that I can’t answer!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Pedestrians should carry guns.

FrancisRude's avatar

Haha, peds should carry guns. Thats a good concept! :)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@augustian… I’m sure they’ll steal them here, too. Each Halloween my duck crossing sign is stolen, and our political signs are stolen unless we put a spotlight on them! :(

MindErrantry's avatar

London, where I’m studying at the moment, has a couple of features that I really like. One are the so-called ‘zebra crossings’, which look like ‘normal’ American crosswalks, but have flashing lights on poles on either side. If a pedestrian wants to cross, they just do; the cars will stop for them and it’s great! Remarkably, it does have an almost 100% success rate—though I think that if they were imported into the States at least, it wouldn’t, since people would a) not be used to it and b) likely to zoom straight on through. The other feature which helps are the subways, which tend to be placed on busy streets so that the cars rarely have to stop—the people just pass right on underneath. In Chicago at least, there are some pedestrian bridges over a couple of roads, but only where there’s a lot of room; these are a nice solution since they fit in really well to an urban landscape.

unfortunately at every other intersection here, the cars always have right away and it’s easy to forget that… nothing’s perfect

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

IMO any solution that segragates motorists and cyclists is flawed.

In my long experience as a cyclist it fosters an us vs. them attitude on both sides.

Cyclists arent blocking traffic, they are traffic.

Kraigmo's avatar

All traffic flows, so long as egos don’t get in the way. Cities can help through education campaigns. It is these very campaigns that have cut down cigarette smoking and drunk driving. Now it’s time to modify more behaviors through the use of public information campaigns.

Cities can encourage car drivers to be more patient when an innocent bicyclist is seemingly in the way, but has no logical alternative.
Cities can encourage bicyclists to never bike double-file if cars are behind them.

In the busiest areas of Amsterdam, the bike lane is parallel
with the car lane, but it is slightly elevated. And then there’s another lane elevated further from that, for pedestrians. Cars and trolleys are all on the lowest level, the regular street, which also has a lot of pedestrians. But all these things are right next to each other. In Amsterdam, there’s more bikes than cars, by far, and yet all the traffic flows very well considering how tiny and populated that city is.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@Noel_S_Leitmotiv , I have to second that. Sidepaths are a conspiracy to kill off cyclists. Bike lanes are collection points for broken glass, road kill, and garbage. It’s fine with me if they want to put up green signs, but pardon me if I ignore them.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex: Agreed. One problem: In my hometown, Sarasota FL, It’s now illegal to cycle outside the bike lane if one is provided. Back when I lived there I simply avoided roads with bikelanes.

Why should my options be reduced just because of the ignorance of motorists?

I’m sure some would argue that the solution is ‘education’, a popular ‘solution’ for all sorts of issues. I dissagree. Education doesn’t address the deeper issue: a sense of personal responsibility.

My solution: crippling fines for those that harass or endanger cyclists.

That or the handy can opener down your car’s finish..

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