Knowledge and Beliefs About Pedestrian Safety in an Urban Community: Implications for Promoting Safe Walking

Elizabeth D. Nesoff, Keshia M. Pollack Porter, Maryanne Bailey, Andrea C. Gielen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


As more people walk for transport and exercise, it is possible to avoid a concomitant increase in the number of pedestrian injuries. Understanding how the public views pedestrian safety can help inform the development of prevention strategies that support national efforts to promote walking and walkable communities. As part of the formative research for a community pedestrian safety health promotion campaign, we administered an online questionnaire to employees and students at a large urban medical campus, along with residents in the neighboring communities, to determine their knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding pedestrian safety; awareness of relevant traffic safety laws; and effective strategies that could improve pedestrian safety. Pearson Chi square Test of Independence was used to investigate differences between individuals who mainly traveled as drivers versus those who mainly traveled as pedestrians. Statistical significance was established at p <.05. A total of 3808 adults completed the online survey. More drivers than pedestrians reported that pedestrian safety was an important problem (73 and 64%, respectively; p <.001). A large proportion of respondents incorrectly reported the existing state laws addressing right of way, fines, and enforcement, with significant differences between drivers and pedestrians (p <.001). Significantly more pedestrians than drivers supported changing traffic signals to increase crossing time (p =.001), while more drivers than pedestrians supported creating structures to prevent midblock crossing (p =.003). Effective interventions to improve pedestrian safety need to tailor messages for both drivers and pedestrians, increase awareness of the laws, and implement comprehensive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Formative research
  • Health communication
  • Health promotion
  • Injury prevention
  • Pedestrian safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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