Workshop to focus on pedestrian safety

By Emily Sokolik

Pedestrian safety is the focus of a new three-day workshop co-sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (C-U MTD) beginning at the University today.

The workshop, entitled “Developing Pedestrian Safety Action Plans and Designing Streets for Pedestrian Safety,” will take place at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., which kicks off the annual planning institute hosted by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

The Federal Highway Administration is targeting Illinois, along with 11 other states, to become part of a campaign to reduce pedestrian fatalities.

“The workshop is responding to a national-level concern about pedestrian and bicyclist safety when sharing the roadway with cars,” said Pattsi Petrie, the coordinator of the planning institute, in a press release.

Chicago has implemented a comprehensive plan to improve pedestrian safety, said Cynthia Hoyle, planning consultant for the C-U MTD.

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She borrowed the concept of the pedestrian workshop from a training program she attended last summer in Chicago.

The C-U MTD cites pedestrian safety as its primary concern, Hoyle said.

Various strategies for increasing safety and reducing pedestrian accidents will be presented at the workshop, including bus stop design, reduction of street-width and crosswalk illumination.

“Creating a safe walking environment is necessary for transit users who are all pedestrians at the beginning and end of their trips,” Hoyle said.

Participants will also visit local sites including one at the intersection of Goodwin and Illinois Streets this afternoon to apply safety strategies in a practical setting.

The various campus locations will be used as the basis for creating design solutions to improve safety.

The conclusion of the pedestrian workshop marks the beginning of the eighth annual planning institute, which will begin Thursday morning at the Alice B. Campbell Alumni Center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave.

This year’s theme “Imagining Communities: Plan, Design, Implement,” is organized around a series of community events addressing topics including sustainability and eco-friendly communities.

“In a day-and-a-half, community and citizen planners will learn about urban design, land-use planning and economic development – the top three concerns mentioned by community leaders,” Petrie said.

“The institute is a unique opportunity to network and exchange ideas with practicing planners, professors and students of planning,” she added.

Joe Simon, senior in FAA, is helping to conduct a session at the institute involving solar design.

He is working with other students at the University to build an energy-efficient, solar powered home to be displayed at the National Mall in Washington D.C. this October.

“With the planning institute, we plan to discuss our project, the issues that we have encountered along the way and the impact that a shift towards more sustainable design can have on interpretations of architecture,” Simon said.