The goal is to reduce vehicle crashes involving pedestrians;
Virtual kickoff event planned for Friday, July 17
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 un-painted 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 overrepresented 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.”
Friday Kickoff on Facebook
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. It 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.”
To learn more about the campaign please visit this link.
New state law
A new Virginia law, effective July 1, 2020, declares that drivers must stop when yielding to pedestrians at:
- Marked crosswalks, whether mid-block or end of a block.
- Any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block.
- Any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway where the maximum speed limit is no more than 35 mph.
Roanoke’s campaign reminds both drivers and pedestrians of some safety essentials.
- Stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks, including ones that not painted
- Watch for pedestrians (especially children) on the side of the road, and be prepared to slow down and stop should they step into the road
- Stop for people crossing the street before turning right or left
- Stop for pedestrians who have a “Walk” signal and anyone in a crosswalk. Drivers must stop even if the pedestrian is crossing once the “Walk” signal has expired.
- Always cross at the corner rather than mid-block
- Be predictable and cross where drivers are likely to expect you
- Look both ways for right or left turning vehicles before you cross, and use the push buttons when they are available.
Virginia law says that pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks and at intersections. However, the law also says that pedestrians should never step into the crosswalk (painted or not) if there is not enough time for a driver to stop. While painted crosswalks can draw attention to pedestrians crossing at that location, unmarked crosswalks exist wherever streets intersect, at the corners of the street.