Enhancing Pedestrian Safety in Parking Environments by L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

We have all heard of the serious concerns related to distracted driving, but it turns out that this level of distraction also applies to pedestrians. Promoting pedestrian safety in parking environments (parking lots, garages, and vehicular drop-off areas) is one of the primary goals of parking professionals, planners, and property managers, and with good reason. Studies show that as many as one in four pedestrian-related accidents occur in parking lots. Of these, about 20 percent result in severe injury or death. With such a large number of accidents occurring in parking areas, doing everything possible to promote safety in these locations has become a top priority of responsible agencies across the nation.

Fortunately, many communities have taken effective steps to reduce the number of local parking lot accidents. One excellent example is Montgomery County, Md., which has conducted an active campaign of this type since 2010. The program was a Best of 2014 winner in IPI’s Parking Matters® Marketing & Communications Awards. You can read more and download some of their collateral materials here. Some of the measures implemented in the county include the following:

  • Placing safety awareness messages in high-traffic areas such as grocery stores, apartment complexes, and on city busses.
  • Showing public service trailers in movie theaters prior to motion pictures.
  • Holding press conferences and other media events to highlight the importance of parking lot pedestrian safety.
  • Conducting focus groups with segments of the population, such as seniors, who are at especially high risk for parking lot-related accidents.

Burns2One statistic from the Montgomery County report that stood out is that 13 percent of parking-related accidents involved vehicles entering or exiting parking facilities.

One of the best programs that I have seen across the country when it comes to addressing this issues is the Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC) in Boise, Idaho.

CCDC currently employees several effective tools to mitigate potential pedestrian safety concerns primarily focused on vehicular exits from parking facilities. At many of these garage egress points, exiting vehicles must cross pedestrian sidewalks.

For garage exit lanes that cross active sidewalks, the following practices are employed:

  • Caution Car Coming Electronic Signage
  • Audible Alarms
  • Signage and Alarm Activation Systems
  • Convex Mirrors
  • Transitional Lighting

Have you undertaken a critical review of pedestrian safety issues for your program lately? If not, I encourage you to do so. I am happy to share resources and reference materials upon request.


One thought on “Enhancing Pedestrian Safety in Parking Environments by L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

  1. As a solution to pedestrian crashes, Vison Zero shows us that the focus should be on engineering rather than education.

    Specifically, the article notes that a large fraction of parking lot crashes are at the entrances and exits. The solution here is a curb radius small enough to force the driver to come to a nearly full stop before entering or leaving the street.

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