The role of perceived pedestrian safety on designing safer built environments

Carlos Aceves-González, Karthikeyan Ekambaram, John Rey-Galindo, Libertad Rizo-Corona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to explore how pedestrians´ safety perception concerning the built environmental characteristics can assist in designing a safer built environment in an urban area in Mexico.

Methods: The study involved two stages of data collection. In the first stage, a physical audit on selected urban roads was performed to assess the characteristics that may increase the perceived risk of a collision. An observational framework to evaluate the crossing areas, sidewalks and organisational factors was developed and used for data collection. In the second stage, an on-street questionnaire was applied to collect the perception of a group of 299 pedestrians about safety risks, road characteristics and their ideas for designing a safer built environment.

Results: The physical road audit identified several features in the crossing areas and sidewalks, such as parked cars, movable and fixed obstacles, and lack of traffic signage, which may increase the risk of a pedestrian being involved in a collision. More than half of the road users who were interviewed either agree (27%) or strongly agree (29%) with the statement that crossing the roads in the area was safe. However, pedestrians also identified the following elements as detrimental for the safe use of roads: lack of traffic lights, too much traffic, lack of signs, and parked cars that obstruct visibility. Participants also raised issues beyond the physical infrastructure; for instance, a lack of respect shown by drivers to pedestrians. For designing a safer built environment, participants suggested several ideas highlighting pedestrianisation of the road and widening the sidewalks, along with restricting parking of cars on the road.

Conclusions: This combination of findings provide valuable support for the premise that pedestrians may have a good sense of recognising safety problems and the ability to see the solutions. Although the research was undertaken in the context of a municipality in Guadalajara, the role of pedestrian safety perception may be applicable in other urban settings in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), where local authorities are in charge of designing the road environment. This study highlights the relevance of including pedestrians’ participation for a safer and human-centred design of our cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Volume(In-press)
Early online date14 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Pedestrian perceived safety
  • pedestrian safety
  • safe built environment, human-centred design

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