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Santa Barbara Chosen for Pedestrian Safety Training Workshop

The program will address problem areas, safety and walkability

Santa Barbara has been selected as one of 12 cities in the state for a free, half-day pedestrian safety training program conducted by the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center under the Community Pedestrian Safety Training Project.

The project is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Cities are selected on the basis of criteria such as their incidents of pedestrian serious injury and fatality and ensuring a geographic distribution of training throughout the state. The UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center has been coordinating with Santa Barbara Walks, a project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

With more people interested in walking as a healthy form of exercise that is also environmentally friendly, the project is intended to help communities make walking a more attractive option. This can be done by creating a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment. More than 14,000 pedestrians are killed or injured in California every year — 6,100 of them while crossing at a crosswalk — and they are disproportionately older people and children.

The training is especially geared toward community members and pedestrian safety advocates. Additionally, a few representatives from the city’s transportation or public works agency, police and local public agencies are invited to attend to ensure coordination with city agencies. About 50 participants have been invited, and attendees will incorporate city-specific issues into the training, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Franklin Community Center, 1136 E. Montecito St.

The four-hour workshop will cover expert presentations on basic pedestrian safety best practices. It will explore engineering steps, such as making crosswalks more visible and adding pedestrian islands. Strategies for engaging community-based professionals and advocates who can come together to solve problems also will be discussed.

Additionally, attendees will be led on a walkability assessment of a selected pedestrian danger area. Small-group discussions will help set priorities for safety treatments.

“By tailoring the training to each community’s needs, we hope to help people identify problem areas — and help them agree on solutions,” said Wendy Alfsen, one of the expert trainers and executive director of California WALKS, a nonprofit pedestrian research and advocacy group that is doing the trainings.

TSC assistant director Jill Cooper said, “The program will help introduce community members to engineering, enforcement and educational methods of addressing pedestrian safety problems in order to make their neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly.”

— Courtney Dietz is the director of Santa Barbara Walks, a project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation.

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