Sixteen local groups ranging from health organizations to cyclist groups and government recently united to launch a community campaign aimed at reducing the number of crashes among motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
The effort features a media campaign that asks drivers to remember the three Ss of safe driving: slowing down, scanning for pedestrians and spacing their vehicle at least three feet away from bicyclists. The campaign’s website features safety tips for drivers.
Nearly 4,000 injuries and deaths involving motor vehicles and bicyclists/pedestrians occurred in Rochester from 2010 to 2017. Data shows that a pedestrian or cyclist is involved in a crash 1.3 times per day in Rochester and that driver error is the cause of 94 percent of crashes. Injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes are not random nor accidents, because they are preventable.
The campaign focuses on drivers, because drivers have the most power on the road. A driver crashing into a pedestrian or bicyclist has a high probability of injuring or killing them. If struck by a vehicle traveling 40 mph, 1 in 10 pedestrians will survive a crash. If struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will survive. In a recent survey, more than half of Monroe County drivers admitted they frequently exceed the speed limit.
Enforcement of speed limits, traffic engineering and education campaigns are three ways communities improve traffic safety.
Local police departments serve as the enforcement role. Cities and towns in Monroe County are using traffic engineering to create more walkable and bikeable communities. Traffic slowing features such as curb bump outs, raised crosswalks and buffered bike lanes are being installed in Rochester and surrounding communities.
A 2018 survey indicated that 2 out of 5 residents feel safe while walking and 1 out of 5 feel safe while bicycling locally. This data is why local organizations started working together to develop a strategy that educates people on how to keep everyone safe.
To address this challenge, Causewave Community Partners and Common Ground Health spent the last two years teaming up with local organizations, including AARP, Center for Disability Rights, city of Rochester, city of Rochester Police Department, Genesee Transportation Council, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Rochester, Monroe County Department of Health, Monroe County Department of Public Safety, MVP Healthcare, Reconnect Rochester, Regional Transit Service, Rochester Cycling Alliance, School 19 — Rochester City School District and United Way of Greater Rochester.
“Whenever we tackle an issue as complex and important as this one, we know it will take the work of many partners to have the impact we’re after,” said Todd Butler, president and CEO of Causewave Community Partners. “We’ve worked for nearly two years with local organizations and Antithesis Advertising to develop a strategy and messaging that will change driver behavior. By delivering a simple, focused message around slowing, scanning and spacing, we’re giving drivers tools to improve safety for everyone who uses the road.”
Antithesis Advertising in Rochester donated more than $80,000 in time and talent to develop the campaign’s advertising and social media presence. The advertising features images of pedestrians and bicyclists who’ve taken extreme measures to be noticed on the road. The copy asks drivers, “What will it take for you to notice me?”
“When we were first asked to help on this effort, we were blown away by the number of bicyclists and pedestrians injured or killed by cars in our area each year,” said Larry Kleehammer, partner at Antithesis Advertising. “So our goal with this campaign was to get people to sit up and take notice. Let’s get them thinking and talking about the issue.”
“Driver education about pedestrian and bicycle laws is needed to help encourage people to walk, run and bike locally, and feel safe while doing so,” said Mike Bulger, healthy communities project coordinator with Common Ground Health.
In a recent survey, 4 out of 5 county residents said they are familiar with vehicle laws, but 1 out of 5 said they are familiar with bicycle laws and less than 2 in 5 are familiar with pedestrian laws.
“In the city of Rochester, 27 percent of households do not have access to a vehicle, so many residents don’t have a choice whether they walk, bike or use a wheelchair on sidewalks or streets,” Bulger said. “If we can get drivers to slow, scan and space their vehicles every time they’re behind the wheel, lives will be saved.”
Nearly 30 area media partners will contribute free space and time for the campaign through Causewave Community Partners. Campaign materials will start showing up across the community in the coming weeks.
Visit drive2bbetter.com for information.