North Carolina continues to experience a high number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries, with 196 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists killed in 2015 alone. Many more received serious or disabling-type injuries. Communities across North Carolina are increasingly interested in creating safer networks for pedestrians and bicyclists and effectively address safety issues. Addressing critical safety needs can reduce the toll on families and communities from fatal and serious crashes. At the same time, improvements can reduce safety barriers to walking and biking, and improve the livability and economic and social vitality of towns and cities.
A data-driven and robust safety assessment process is essential for identifying and prioritizing safety needs and projects to most cost-effectively apply scarce resources. The main goal of this project was to develop a sound, data-driven, collaborative, but adaptable pedestrian or bicycle road safety assessment process to improve safety project development and prioritization. Local and regional agencies are encouraged to use the guidance and process in collaboration with NCDOT and other partners to better identify safety needs, match potential countermeasures to needs, and develop improved safety project plans and project proposals. This report provides an overview of the tasks and processes used to develop the guide, which serves as the main project deliverable.
The process aims to enhance safety practices by the following means:
- To facilitate local agencies to use data to identify and prioritize pedestrian and bicycle safety problem locations;
- To help agencies investigate those problems through road safety assessments;
- To help agencies document safety issues and potential solutions that may be used to develop and prioritize safety improvement projects.
This project was accomplished through the following tasks:
- Performed a literature and resource review to identify and incorporate best practices in safety analysis and road safety audits/assessments. This step also involved identifying North Carolina data sources and Guidebooks that should be incorporated.
- Developed an initial process Guidebook. This draft was reviewed by the research panel.
- Worked with NCDOT and crash data analysis to identify a list of candidate pilot cities.
- Interviewed staff from eight candidate cities to learn more about their current practices, and using criteria of geographic distribution, size, and need for assistance, as well as interest of the local agencies, we identified three smaller to moderate sized towns to work with.
- Documented lessons learned from the pilot tests.
- Interviewed MPO, RPO and NCDOT Safety Office staffs to gain additional insights into how to feasibly incorporate the RSA process into regular practices.
- Presented the process at a statewide conference (NC Bike/Walk Summit) attended by all the relevant types of stakeholders / target audience for the Guidebook.
- Revised the Guidebook to incorporate the lessons learned, tips, and insights from the pilot tests and interviews.
We summarize key findings from the pilot testing (task 4) and other tasks in this report. This report also provides suggestions for implementation of the Guide.