Pedestrian safety survey available through Friday

By Danielle Gaines

Friday is the final day to participate in an online pedestrian safety questionnaire. More than 5,000 people have completed the survey already, said Rahim Benekohal, professor in civil engineering and the survey’s creator.

“We’d like to get everyone’s opinion so the final report has the broadest representation possible,” Benekohal said.

The questionnaire is part of a large-scale crosswalk survey by Benekohal. Discussion on an investigation into pedestrian safety on campus began in March 2005, and the formal project began July 2005 at the request of the Chancellor’s office.

The survey aims to find pedestrian safety improvements, identify successful traffic safety measures, and understand which crosswalks are problematic to pedestrians, and compares the University with other Big Ten schools.

Students, faculty and staff can take the survey by using the link on the University homepage. Community members interested in participating can email Benekohal for access to the questionnaire.

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The questionnaire contains 25 questions and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Participants are asked questions to determine their understanding of different traffic signs and their comfort level with them.

Benekohal said misunderstanding of traffic signs by both pedestrians and drivers may give pedestrians a false feeling of safety and may lead to more accidents.

“If understanding of traffic signs is wrong, they need to be changed or an educational campaign will have to be put in place,” Benekohal said.

The questionnaire also includes areas to describe any accidents or near misses with automobiles, buses and bicycles that pedestrians have encountered in the University District.

“There are problematic areas that we may not know about,” Benekohal said. “This is the best way to find them.”

Benekohal will integrate a questionnaire analysis with the final crosswalk survey that will be sent to the Chancellor in June 2006.

Benekohal is also interviewing focus groups as part of the larger crosswalk survey. Several focus group meetings have already been held with bus drivers, police departments and students. Focus groups will also be held for faculty/staff, campus/community administrators, cyclists, disabled persons and community stakeholders (business owners, alumni, parents). There will also be two more student focus groups.

Anyone interested in participating in a focus group meeting can contact Benekohal at [email protected].