STOP, WATCH, WALK - Road and Traffic Intersection Safety
With an increased emphasis on the benefits of physical activity, more and more people are using trails. Because many of those trails cross local and state highways, Parks & Trails New York launched a study designed to improve the safety at road and trail intersections across the state. The Safety Standards Roads and Trail Intersections Study was supported in part by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Parks & Trails New York is one of few organizations in the nation and the first in New York to study this emerging issue.
Road and trail intersections present unique hazards to both trail users and motorists. Guidelines and recommendations for road and trail intersections do already exist but have not been universally accepted across New York or by different levels of government. Parks & Trails New York's goal is to highlight the importance of the issue and advocate for a more uniform approach to designing road and trail intersections in order to keep all trail users safe, while promoting the continued growth of trails in New York.
Phase One – practitioner survey and report
The first phase of the study concluded with the release of the report, Road and Trail Intersection Safety: An examination of present practice, recommendations for future actions. The report presents design and policy recommendations for improving road and trail intersection safety, including additional public safety education for motorists, trail users, and law enforcement officials; changes or clarifications in crash reporting policies and Vehicle and Traffic Law as it applies to trails; and improvements in road and trail intersection design. As part of the study, Parks & Trails New York surveyed nearly 2,000 trail groups, highway superintendents, and government officials to learn more about existing road and trail intersection design and the occurrence and nature of crashes at road and trail intersections.
The executive summary of the report is available here.
Phase Two - “Stop, Watch, Walk!” public education campaign
Collisions between trail users and motorists are not accidents. They are crashes that can be prevented. By enjoying a trail responsibly, everyone can make an important contribution to the safety of other trail users. As a motorist, being alert and watching for trail intersections can help save lives.
To promote the safe and responsible behavior of trail users and motorists at road and trail intersections, Parks & Trails New York, in conjunction with the New York State Canal Corporation, launched its "Stop, Watch Walk!" safety education campaign.
The "Stop, Watch, Walk!" campaign has two main messages:
- For trail users: Stop at road and trail intersections. Dismount if you are a cyclist. Watch for cars, even if you are in a striped crosswalk. Make sure drivers see you before walking across.
- For motorists –Watch for trail users when approaching an intersection. The law requires you to yield to a pedestrian or dismounted cyclist within the crosswalk.
Parks & Trails New York is used news releases, colorful information cards, and articles in trail organization newsletter to deliver its message, with a special focus on the 14 counties along the Erie Canalway Trail. The Canalway Trail was chosen because of its high visibility, public recognition, and relatively large volume of trail traffic.
"Safe Crossings" provides resources for trail builders and managers
“Safe Crossings” provides a comprehensive, "one-stop shopping" resource for Trail Builders and Managers to find information and suggestions for the design of safer trail crossings. The guide is intended as a review of trail intersection design guidelines from the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), The American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) guidelines are be highlighted as well as a few from the Sustrans in the UK.