Phoenix Reports Fewer Pedestrian Deaths, More Crosswalk Improvements

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 1:46pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 5:38pm
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Phoenix has identified 27th Avenue as a hot spot for pedestrian deaths and serious injuries.

More than a year after the City Council directed the Street Transportation Department to fund the Office of Pedestrian Safety, Phoenix is claiming progress.

In 2018, Phoenix reported 112 pedestrians died. The tragedies and publicity led the council to direct $2 million in annual funds to focus on pedestrian safety

Street Transportation Director Kini Knudson recently told a city subcommittee lighting has been one area of focus over the past year. 

“Previous way — we had a design of our streets going back decades we only had street lighting on one side, so one thing we’ve seen is to be able to help out with pedestrians is to have a second side of lighting for the other side of the roadway,” he said.

Among other  things, Phoenix is adding traffic signals that can be activated by pedestrians at some crosswalks (HAWK signals) and upgrading crosswalks without signals.

Preliminary data show 37 pedestrian fatalities during the first 8 months of 2020 compared to 58 fatalities during the same period in 2019, a 36% decrease. A city report, citing preliminary numbers for the Arizona Department of Transportation, shows 86 pedestrian deaths on Phoenix roads in 2019, a 17% decrease from 2018. However, the preliminary data also show a 28% increase in fatalities from 2015 to 2019 and a 91% increase from 2010 to 2019.

Here’s how Phoenix has spent and plans to spend money on pedestrian safety:

Engineering  

Streetlighting: $250,000 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety completed the design of new streetlighting for a critical half-mile segment along 27th Avenue between Bethany Home Road and Maryland Avenue. Design has been completed, with construction planned for later this fiscal year. 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety also initiated design of new streetlighting for an additional half-mile segment along Thomas Road between 32nd Street and 36th Street. In the last five years, there have been three pedestrian fatalities and four incapacitating injuries during the nighttime hours in this segment of Thomas Road. Construction is anticipated using FY 2021 funding and should be completed in FY 2022. 

HAWK and Traffic Signals: $780,000 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety initiated the design of HAWK and traffic signals at nine high-crash locations. 

Design work has been completed for three of these locations. Construction is scheduled to be completed later this fiscal year using FY 2020 funding. 

  • Seventh Avenue and Cocopah Street (HAWK signal) 
  • 27th Avenue and Rovey Avenue (HAWK signal) 
  • 41st Street and McDowell Road (HAWK signal)

Design work is underway at six additional locations and is scheduled to be completed later this fiscal year. Construction is scheduled to be completed later this fiscal year using FY 2021 funding. 

  • Seventh Avenue near Pima Street (HAWK signal)
  • Seventh Avenue and Turney Avenue (HAWK signal)
  • 20th Avenue and Indian School Road (Traffic signal)
  • 43rd Avenue near Pinchot Avenue (HAWK signal)
  • 43rd Avenue south of Rose Lane (HAWK signal)
  • Indian School Road near Amelia Avenue (HAWK signal) 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety also constructed a traffic signal to signalize the crosswalk at the Academy of Math and Science — Desert Sky campus at 57th Drive and McDowell Road. Construction has been completed and the signal was activated in October 2020. 

Pedestrian Refuge Median Islands: $100,000 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety designed two pedestrian refuge islands. Installation has been completed at one location, with the other planned for later this fiscal year. 

  • 43rd Avenue south of Baseline Road (completed)
  • Buckeye Road east of Sky Harbor Circle (installation in December 2020) 

Crosswalk Upgrades: $607,000

The Office of Pedestrian Safety initially planned to upgrade 55 unsignalized crossing locations to improve driver visibility. However, through resident requests and field observations, the Office of Pedestrian Safety upgraded 85 locations. The upgrades included high visibility striping and yield lines; double-sided street signs; and in some locations additional streetlights and/or ADA ramp upgrades.

Education

Pedestrian Safety Activity Book Design and Printing: $38,000 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety designed, translated to Spanish, and printed copies of our Pedestrian Safety Activity Book geared to elementary school-aged children (in third through sixth grades). Staff printed 13,000 copies of the book in English and 10,000 copies in Spanish. 

Pedestrian Safety School Outreach: $0 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety developed a six-week school curriculum focused on the use of and teaching around the Pedestrian Safety Activity Book. Staff prioritized schools within ¼-mile of pedestrian “hotspot” locations in Phoenix to provide pedestrian safety education classes.

 In January 2020, the Office of Pedestrian Safety provided this curriculum for approximately 100 third graders at Mitchell Elementary School in Maryvale. Additional teaching was scheduled at other schools, but due to COVID-19 were canceled. Staff will work to reschedule with other schools as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Evaluation 

Arizona State University Research: $50,000 

The Office of Pedestrian Safety worked with Arizona State University (ASU) to undertake two research studies investigating pedestrian crashes in Phoenix. ASU has finalized studies with summaries of findings and recommendations. These are currently under review by Office of Pedestrian Safety staff. 

Unobligated Funding 

FY 2020 Funds Carried Over to FY 2021: $175,000 

These funds were not obligated in FY 2020 but were carried over for use in FY 2021. The funds will be utilized for street lighting, pedestrian refuge median islands, and educational outreach materials. 

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