In 2016, Salem
City Council commissioned a Pedestrian Safety Study to provide insight into infrastructure and human behaviors contributing to crashes in Salem. The study included more than 100 hours of field observations at intersections and corridors that were selected due to a high frequency of crashes. A combination of crash data and police reports from 2011–2017 were also part of the final analysis.
“The City Council made improving pedestrian and bicycle safety a priority in recent years,” said Peter Fernandez, Salem Public Works Director. “The way we approach road and pathway design is critical for everyone’s safety and for reducing potential conflicts between pedestrians, bicycles, and cars.”
The study found that crash patterns, driver and pedestrian behaviors were unpredictable, and crashes were caused by many factors. A few of the key findings include:
The likelihood for conflict increased where major traffic flows intersected with popular pedestrian travel paths.
Drivers were seen speeding, driving aggressively, and failing to yield to pedestrians.
Pedestrians were observed crossing at midblock locations on roadways with four or more lanes and when there were long distances between signalized crossings. Pedestrians were also seen crossing against the pedestrian signal.
Salem Chief of Police,
Jerry Moore, adds, “This study confirms the shared responsibility drivers and pedestrians have to ensure everyone’s safety. The Police Department, and all City staff, are committed to ongoing community outreach and enforcement activities designed to improve public safety in all Salem’s neighborhoods.”
The study also includes general recommendations to improve pedestrian safety and specific recommendations for twenty locations in Salem. Recommendations include:
- Limit spacing between protected crossings and limit conflicts between walkers and turning cars
- Improve road way and intersection lighting
- Consider pedestrian paths in planning development
- Location-specific enhancements such as crossings with median refuge islands, traffic signal modifications, and maintenance of trees and vegetation
Even though the pedestrian fatality rate in Salem over the last six years is roughly 19 percent below the national average, every death on Salem’s roadways is tragic. On November 13, the City will host a
brown-bag meeting, and a City Council work session, to present the findings and recommendations of the
Pedestrian Safety Study. The meeting will be held at noon in the Anderson Room at the
Salem Public Library and includes a question and answer session. The Council work session will be held at 5 p.m. in Council Chambers later that day and will be broadcast on the
City’s Facebook page and on
Capital Community Television’s YouTube channel.