Investigating and improving pedestrian safety in an urban environment

Keshia M. Pollack, Andrea C. Gielen, Mohd Nasir Mohd Ismail, Molly Mitzner, Michael Wu, Jonathan M. Links

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Prompted by a series of fatal and nonfatal pedestrian-vehicle collisions, university leadership from one urban institution collaborated with its academic injury research center to investigate traffic-related hazards facing pedestrians. Methods: This descriptive epidemiologic study used multiple data collection strategies to determine the burden of pedestrian injury in the target area. Data were collected in 2011 through a review of university crash reports from campus police; a systematic environmental audit and direct observations using a validated instrument and trained raters; and focus groups with faculty, students, and staff. Study findings were synthesized and evidence-informed recommendations were developed and disseminated to university leadership. Results: Crash reports provided some indication of the risks on the streets adjacent to the campus. The environmental audit identified a lack of signage posting the speed limit, faded crosswalks, issues with traffic light and walk sign synchronization, and limited formal pedestrian crossings, which led to jaywalking. Focus groups participants described dangerous locations and times, signal controls and signage, enforcement of traffic laws, use of cell phones and iPods, and awareness of pedestrian safety. Recommendations to improve pedestrian safety were developed in accordance with the three E’s of injury prevention (education, enforcement, and engineering), and along with plans for implementation and evaluation, were presented to university leadership. Conclusions: These results underscore the importance of using multiple methods to understand fully the problem, developing pragmatic recommendations that align with the three E’s of injury prevention, and collaborating with leadership who have the authority to implement recommended injury countermeasures. These lessons are relevant for the many colleges and universities in urban settings where a majority of travel to offices, classrooms, and surrounding amenities are by foot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalInjury Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 18 2014


  • Partnership
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Three E’s
  • Urban environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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