Case Studies

Pedestrian and Bike Safety

How might we create a safer Baltimore for pedestrians and bicyclists?

Project Overview

Pedestrians and cyclists represent over 20% of Maryland fatal traffic crashes (Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, 2019 Update). In densely populated Baltimore City, pedestrians are often at risk, with crashes in Baltimore representing 30% of all statewide pedestrian crashes and 17% of all traffic-related pedestrian injuries (Baltimore City Transportation Safety Plan, 2015). One third of pedestrian injuries are people under 19 years of age, and 60% of those involved are male. Further, research by Smart Growth America on the nation’s “Pedestrian Danger Indexes” by population indicates that across every state where data was available, people of color were far more likely to be struck and killed while walking than non-Hispanic Whites (Dangerous by Design, 2016).

In partnership with staff at Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration Maryland Highway Safety Office, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other community stakeholders, MICA’s Center for Social Design will work to better understand the barriers to pedestrian and bicyclist safety in Baltimore and develop design prototypes with the ultimate goal of creating a safer Baltimore for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Through collaborating with community stakeholders and partners in Phase I of the project (July 2018-June 2019) the team identified the need to address the visibility of pedestrian zones and to encourage safe behavior by both drivers and pedestrians. They also learned that many community members care deeply about pedestrian and bicyclist safety, but feel that their voices are not being heard by those with agency to fix the problems. 

Based on these learnings, the team developed and tested four intervention concepts to support improved pedestrian and bicyclist safety:

  • Bright Lanes uses eye-catching and thought-provoking pieces, such as creative crosswalks and illuminated infrastructure elements, to increase the visibility of pedestrian zones and encourage safe behavior by both drivers and pedestrians.
  • Reflective StreetWear experiments with visibility through fashion, using reflective materials that can enhance pedestrian and bike visibility on the road with the aim to increase a driver's awareness of other road users. 
  • The DIY Toolkit makes it easier for Baltimore communities to increase pedestrian and bike safety in their neighborhoods. It contains a series of detailed instructions and materials for communities looking to implement their own Bright Lanes or Reflective StreetWear.
  • The Safety Cityhack is a series of community outreach events that start conversations about pedestrian and bike safety concerns. The events allow community members to  bring up pedestrian and bicyclist safety concerns to policy makers and prioritize local needs. This prototype is also a vehicle for community engagement and education efforts.

Articles & Publications

Project Team

Connie Zheng, Mason Cook, Noni Devora, Levi Tran, Vilde Ulset, Quinton Batts, Kristi Liu, Shuang Wu

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