Watch: Creating safer streets with demonstration projects

Last month, we shared the stories of how Orlando, FL, Lexington, KY, and South Bend, IN launched demonstration projects to create safer streets. We also held a webinar with representatives from all three cities who spoke about lessons learned from their experiences developing demonstration projects. To learn more about these projects and how you can create safer streets in your own communities, you can read the case studies, watch the webinar recording above, download a PDF of the presentations, or check out answers to some of the questions we received during the webinar below.


We had so many great questions during the Q&A section of the webinar that we couldn’t get to all of them. Here are the answers to a few of the questions we missed:

Did you need to get any permits or pass any policies or resolutions to allow these demonstration projects?
Orlando: We needed permits from the Orange County government to work on their road, including a hold harmless agreement.
South Bend: We did not seek approval from our Board of Public Works since the installs were temporary (less than 90 days), so our City Engineer was able to approve them.
Lexington: No, our group consisted of three divisions within the government and two of those handle permits for street projects. If an outside organization had proposed this project we would have helped them through the permit process, reviewed and approved the design, and required some sort of maintenance agreement for the duration of the installation.

What types of community engagement and outreach did you use?
South Bend: We used a combination of traditional neighborhood meetings at a community center along with pop up meetings at a couple of neighborhood events (chili cook off, etc). We also used ArcGIS to create a collector for getting neighborhood feedback on pain points or areas of speeding. Finally, we set up on our site where we posted public meeting presentations and project updates. We communicated with neighbors via email once they had signed up at public meetings.
Lexington: We used an online survey initially to get input about the project area and spread the word about the listening session (public meeting). Moving forwards we will begin to use ArcGIS online applications to engage the public using interactive maps to gather input we normally ask for at the public meetings. We will likely continue to have public meetings and be sure we offer other convenient ways to participate.
Orlando: We hosted a Community Meeting prior to the start of the project, which was extremely successfully in terms of participation and feedback. We had approximately 50-60 attendees at the community meeting and over 100 at the Bike/Ped Safety Fair. We also created a dedicated webpage and performed outreach through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Did you change your designs at all based on community input?
Lexington: Yes, initially we used public comment to guide the original design. After the project was installed for a period of time we used feedback we received to make some changes to the original installation. I think this really proves how effective these types of projects can be and also validates the need to include this in the design process for permanent capital improvement projects.
South Bend: Yes, we were able to change our design based on feedback in areas where the straw logs as they were easy modify. The rubber curbing material was semi- permanent and not that easy to change
Orlando: Input from our initial public meeting helped solidify the design from concept. We also made field adjustments after receiving input, but we didn’t make any major changes.

How did the public respond to the project?
Orlando: Before the project, almost all the feedback we received was positive, but after the project was implemented, acceptance was reduced with some positive and some strong negative feedback. Commuters generally expressed frustration with losing a travel lane to bicyclists and with increased delay. Neighborhoods provided a mixture of input—much of the feedback was positive (creating a better sense of place, increasing safety for people trying to walk and ride their bikes, slowing down vehicles), while some expressed concerns about cut-through traffic and increased travel delays.

What was the reason for including art in the projects and what kind of paint did you use? Who will maintain the artwork?
South Bend: The purpose was community engagement, neighborhood pride, and beautification. We used Sherwin Williams interior paint for our art project so it could be easily removed. We set the expectation clearly that this was a one-time thing and that if the neighborhood desired, they could make this an annual event and paint the pavement as a block party.
Orlando: We painted traffic rated paint atop temporary traffic tape for creative placemaking. Now that the demonstration project is over, the art has been removed.

Has the FHWA softened their position on crosswalk art and intersection murals, and if not, is the City worried about risk exposure due to installation of non-compliant traffic control?
Orlando: We are not aware of any recent change to FHWA’s position on crosswalk art. Our project did not contain art in the crosswalk itself. All artwork was confined to the median refuge, which was readily visible to pedestrians but not to drivers. We are not aware of the painting distracting drivers.

How did you anchor cones/curbs/delineators in place during your demonstration projects?
Lexington: We bolted everything to the asphalt pavement. After consulting with our division of streets and roads we determined that it would be easier and do less damage to the pavement to remove the bolts and anchors and fill the holes with epoxy. We only used half of the installation hardware for each item (i.e. if there were 4 bolts required to install we only used 2).

Some of the curb ramps for new crosswalks are offset from each other. Why were the crosswalks designed in this way, and what if any ADA features did you provide to help visually impaired people negotiate these crosswalks?
Orlando: The offset crosswalks physically aim pedestrians to have a more direct view of oncoming traffic. We included raised detectable warning surfaces on the curb ramps.

Stay tuned for future opportunities

Thanks to a Safe System Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition, the National Complete Streets Coalition will work with three more cities on safety demonstration projects through the Safe Streets, Smart Cities Academy. Stay tuned for more information about how to apply.

Complete Streets