More people venturing out as the economy reopens means more summertime pedestrians on the city’s sidewalks and streets. But that also increases the chances of pedestrians being struck by vehicles.
It’s more important than ever to pay attention to pedestrian safety, and so the City of Roanoke this week is launching a new pedestrian safety campaign: “Every Corner is a Crosswalk.” The goal is for people who drive to follow the law and stop for pedestrians at painted and unpainted crosswalks and for pedestrians to be predictable by crossing at the corner or a designated crosswalk throughout Roanoke.
“Our message is simple: In Virginia, every corner is a crosswalk, whether it’s painted or not,” said Mark Jamison, the city’s Public Works Director. “So this campaign will reinforce that drivers need to stop there if pedestrians are present and pedestrians need to cross at the corners.”
The campaign, which launched Monday, officially kicks off with a Facebook Live virtual event at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 17, and continues through Sept. 4, ahead of Labor Day weekend.
Funded by a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles grant, it’s intended to reduce the number of crashes between vehicles and people walking, while increasing compliance with Virginia state law at crosswalks for both drivers and pedestrians.
It comes as a new state law strengthens measures to combat the problem. The campaign aims to reduce the number of pedestrian-involved crashes in the city, increase drivers yielding for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks, and encourage the correct use of crosswalks by pedestrians.
“The project builds upon recent City of Roanoke efforts and investments to reduce pedestrian-related crashes, including evaluation, engineering, and enforcement,” said Andrea Garland, a traffic engineer for the City. “In Roanoke, pedestrians are over-represented in serious injuries and fatal crashes – which means that when a pedestrian is involved in a crash, it is more likely to result in a serious or fatal injury. Through this campaign we hope to increase crosswalk compliance by both drivers and pedestrians to create a safer, more pedestrian-friendly community.”
The virtual kickoff will be held on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 17. Hosted by RIDE Solutions, the event will include videos from local and national organizations featuring pedestrian safety tips and historical tidbits. There will also be interactive activities, and opportunities to win prizes and get an “Every Corner is a Crosswalk” yard sign to help spread the campaign message in neighborhoods.
“Walking is the most reliable form of transportation for a lot of folks,” said Jeremy Holmes, director of RIDE Solutions. “We want everyone on the streets to be safe whether you’re on your own two feet or behind the wheel, whether you’re going to the store or getting to work.”
Holmes says the coronavirus outbreak has increased pedestrian traffic. “Pedestrian safety has always been an issue, but what we’ve seen during the pandemic is that a lot more people have been walking in their neighborhoods and for recreation, and so there are more people on sidewalks and roads,” he said. “It’s highlighted what has been a fundamental problem for a long time.”
The campaign includes multi-media advertising, communications from city agencies and local businesses, and yard signs and posters displayed throughout the community.
The campaign will include a traffic signal box art challenge to wrap the boxes with vinyl artwork representing each of the city’s four quadrants plus downtown. In addition, community partners like Carilion Clinic have committed to promote the campaign.
“Our goal is to educate and prevent crashes from occurring in the first place,” said Arwen Quinn, Carilion’s trauma outreach coordinator. “Last year, we saw nearly 70 pedestrians injured as a result of preventable crashes. Pedestrian safety awareness is crucial in reducing the number of those injuries. We’re proud to partner with the City of Roanoke in this effort.”