Pedestrian safety tips from Health Initiative
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 12:52 pm

To The Editor:

In August 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 6 in 10 people walk for transportation, run, relaxation, exercise, or for activities such as walking the dog. However, fewer than half of all adults get the recommended 150 minutes a week of physical activity, due in part to the lack of convenient and safe places to walk.

Today’s highway systems were designed to move people and goods quickly, but intersection are a major point of conflict for all road users and are frequent sites of injuries and fatalities, The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research state, 22 pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents occurred in St. Lawrence County during 2010; 86 percent of those accidents resulted in injuries and on was a fatality.

Effective ways to create a safe environment for all users is the use of the four “Es” of highway safety: engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response.

In July, the Potsdam Police Department announced enforcement of village crosswalks. Their campaign objective - heighten driver awareness of their surroundings, including intersection and pedestrians.

To encourage children to walk and bike, the New York State Department of Transportation developed the Street Smart Safety Zones program. The DOT advises walkers to:

• Walk on a sidewalk, if available, if none are available walk as far off the pavement as possible and face traffic.

• Be alert and aware of your surroundings.

• Use pedestrian crossings.

• Be visible - wear bright colors and reflective materials, especially at night.

Local officials can address roadway engineering by enacting Complete Streets policies. These policies ideally set a vision, apply to everyone traveling along the road, and develop a complete and balanced transportation network through the use of a tailored design criteria and planning goals that create a livable, strong, neighborhood.

The St. Lawrence Healthy Initiative Places to Live, Work and Play project, funded by the New York State Department of health can assist St. Lawrence County communities with developing Complete Streets policies, starting active transportation advisory groups and implementing modest traffic calming strategies.

Tracy Moody, Health Initiative Coordinator