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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-090
Date: July 2006

Lesson 3: Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety

In this photo, a young child on a bike is waiting with his father on a curb in a neighborhood. Both are looking at the cars going in both directions on the street in front of them.
(This picture shows a bicyclist not wearing a helmet.FHWA strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets.)

Lesson Outline

  • How is a crash different from an accident?
  • Pedestrian and bicycle crashes:
    – Number.
    – Characteristics.
    – Types.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Tool (PBCAT).
  • Crash frequency using geographic information systems (GIS).
  • Crash countermeasures.
  • Benefit-cost analysis.

Magnitude of the Problem

  • In 2003:
    – 4,749 pedestrians were killed.
    – 622 bicyclists were killed.
    – Bike/pedestrian crashes accounted for 13% of all highway fatalities.
    – There were 70,000 urban pedestrian injuries.
    – There were 46,000 urban bicyclist injuries.

Pedestrian Crash Characteristics

  • Young people are overrepresented.
  • 33% of all crashes result in serious injury or death.
  • Alcohol or drugs are involved in about 15% of all crashes.
  • Crashes most often occur during late afternoon or early evening hours.

Pedestrian Crash Characteristics

  • About 2/3 of all crashes occur in urban areas.
  • 69% of fatal pedestrian crashes occur at nonintersection locations.
  • Most injury crashes occur at intersections.
  • Pedestrians were solely at fault in 43% of crashes.
  • Drivers were solely at fault in 35% of crashes.

Fatality Trends

The graph is a bar graph with separate series for both pedestrians and bicyclists. On the x-axis is the year, from 1991 to 2001, and on the y-axis is the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed. The graph has a general downward trend for pedestrian fatalities each year, but the bicyclist deaths fluctuate a little more, peaking in 1995. The main point of this graph is that it shows that there has been a steady decline in pedestrian-motorist crashes each year and also a decline in bicyclist-motorist crashes since 1991.

Bicycle Crash Characteristics

  • About 3/4 of all crashes occur at nonintersection locations.
  • Young people are overrepresented.
  • 18% of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes result in serious injuries or death.

Bicycle Crash Characteristics

  • Crashes most often occur during late afternoon or early evening.
  • About 2/3 of all fatal crashes occur in urban areas.
  • Bicyclists were solely at fault in 50% of the crashes.
  • Younger bicyclists were at fault more often than drivers.
  • 36% of crashes are parallel path collisions.
  • 57% of crashes are crossing path collisions.

Pedestrian/Bicycle Crash Types

Ride out at a Stop Sign - In this diagram, a crash occurred at an intersection at which the Bicyclist was facing a stop sign or flashing red light. The frequency of this type is 290 cases, 9.7 percent of all crashes. Severity: Twenty-three percent resulted in serious or fatal injuries.

Crash Type Countermeasures

  • Sidewalks.
  • Crosswalks.
  • Bike lanes.
  • Education.
  • Small curb radii.
  • Chokers.
  • Pedestrian crossing islands.
  • Speed humps versus speed tables.
  • Full and partial street closures.

Crash Typing and Frequency Analysis

  • PBCAT:

    – Q &A-based crash typing.
    – Suggested countermeasure.

  • GIS:

    – Hot spot analysis.
    – Relational aspects.

This figure shows a map of Houston with major freeways represented by thick lines and arterial streets represented by thinner lines. Specific pedestrian and bicycle crash locations are indicated by different colored dots. High concentrations of pedestrian and bicycle crashes are certain locations are designated as crash hot spots, and oval-shaped shaded areas are used to indicate these hot spot areas.
Source: HGAC http://www.h-gac.com

GIS Crash Frequency Analysis

This figure shows a map of west Houston with major freeways represented by thick lines and arterial streets represented by thinner lines. On this map, the size of a pound symbol (#) is used to represent the number of pedestrian crashes at certain locations. Thus, locations with a large pound symbol represent areas with a high frequency of pedestrian crashes.
Source: HGAC http://www.h-gac.com

Benefit-Cost Analysis

  • Safety improvement index:
    – Benefit-cost used to rank different projects.
  • Benefit-cost ratio:
    – Reduction in crash cost (benefit).
    – Expected countermeasure cost.
    – Three years of crash data.
    – Projected traffic volumes.
    – Service life of project.

Lesson Summary

  • Bicycle and pedestrian crashes are preventable.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian crashes account for a significant portion of the highway safety problem in the United States.
  • The types of crashes that occur and the characteristics of these crashes make prevention a more attainable goal.
  • Many tools are available to assist in crash analysis.
  • Crashes and countermeasures have associated costs.
  • Safety improvement index or benefit-cost analysis can be used to rank safety projects.



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