The CPBST at work in Florence-Firestone

Improving safety for walking and biking with the Community Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Training Program

Guest story post by Kate Beck, program lead, UC Berkeley SafeTREC.

Pedestrians and bicyclists make up a disproportionate share of road deaths and injuries, and low-income, majority person-of-color communities tend to face the greatest danger. Comprehensive pedestrian safety programs targeted toward such communities have the potential to build communities’ capacity to address safety issues, but there is a lack of systematic research and evaluation on how effective these programs are.

In 2017, the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at UC Berkeley conducted an evaluation of the Community Pedestrian Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) program, a joint project of SafeTREC and California Walks. The CPBST is a training designed to provide participants with pedestrian and bicycle safety best practices and a range of proven strategies to address and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety conditions and concerns (the 6 E’s: Evaluation, Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, Equity & Empowerment).

In the evaluation, we found that the workshops helped those attending the workshop identify community needs and develop partnerships between stakeholders. We also found that the CPBST workshops provide a critical space for community stakeholders to meet, learn a common language about safety, and develop partnerships around pedestrian and bicycle safety. Many of the communities we worked with have used the workshops as support for further local planning and have subsequently obtained funding for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

CPBST at work in Florence-Firestone

Florence-Firestone is one example of a community where the CPBST workshop helped to build partnerships between groups working in the area and provided stakeholders with additional information that was later used in funding applications.

Florence-Firestone is an unincorporated area in LA County, with a population of 63,177. To plan the workshop, SafeTREC and California Walks partnered with representatives from the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, Department of Planning, and Department of Public Works, the Office of local supervisor, the Los Angeles Educational Partnership and the Florence-Firestone Community Service Center.

The half-day workshop consisted of;

1) an overview of multidisciplinary approaches to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety;

2) walkability and bikeability assessments along two key routes; and

3) small group action planning discussions to facilitate the development of community-prioritized recommendations to inform Florence-Firestone active transportation efforts.

Various sidewalk conditions in Florence-Firestone.

During the workshop, the planning committee and workshop attendees brought up many concerns, including:

  • high speeds, wide roads and unsafe driving behavior on arterial streets and residential roads
  • poor roadway and sidewalk conditions, including potholes, debris, and faded road and crosswalk markings. These issues were particularly noticeable at intersections near schools, churches, and community centers.
  • bicycle network gaps, including poor and missing bicycle lanes on roads where many people in the community cycle.

Workshop Recommendations 

At the end of the workshop, the planning committee and workshop attendees came up with a number of recommendations for improving pedestrian and bicycle safety in their neighborhood. Some of the recommendations that were brought up included:

  • Improve pedestrian crossings, reduce speeds and remove parkingparticipants prioritized new marked crossings, high-visibility crosswalks and driver speed feedback signs near schools, local churches, and community service centers in the area. Participants also suggested removing parkingfrom one side of a local road, in order to provide more space for cyclists and improve pedestrian visibility at crossings.
  • Bicycle and driver education campaigns: participants suggested developing a driver education campaign focused on the new bike lanes on a local road, in order to educate drivers about the existence of the bike lanes, and how to manage conflict zones with people who are biking.
  • Safe Routes to School Education and Encouragement - With many elementary and middle schools located in the area, participants, were interested in developing safe walking and biking education materials and implementing Safe Routes to School activities, like walking school buses and student safety patrol.
The walk [audit] helped us to formulate an application for street improvements in the area. It was definitely beneficial, it helped that I personally went on the walk in the area, [I got a] better idea of what improvements to ask for.
Florence-Firestone Community Partner

Workshop Follow-Up 

Six months after the workshop, we checked in with two people who were on the planning committee to see what had happened since the workshop. We learned that there were a number of exciting things happening in the community since we had been there:

  • Partnerships between workshop attendees: several attendees have partnered with one anotherA group of women and one young girl pose for a photo. Three are wearing safety vests and holding clipboards. to organize a number of successful community engagement events. Three of the organizations also partnered to collaborate on a number of Safe Routes to School activities.
  • Resident involvement in planning and funding proposals: After meeting during the CPBST workshop, county staff incorporated Florence-Firestone residents into the formative stages of some planning efforts occurring locally.
  • Walk/Bike Assessments: several attendees organized follow-up walk and bike assessments following the workshop using the workshop materials to plan and assess additional routes.
  • Knowledge building: A few follow-up interviews revealed that people thought the workshop helped residents better understand the role the built environment plays in overall health and wellness, and thus feel better equipped to advocate for improvements. They said that it was also useful to learn about the work that was happening in communities nearby.

This story is part of the Stories from the Field Series, where we share stories of successes, lessons learned, best practices and tools for promoting safe active transportation throughout the state of California. It is a great opportunity to share your own experiences with others what works and to learn from one another how to encourage safe and active travel.

This Stories From the Field interview was conducted in collaboration with UC Berkeley SafeTREC. The opinions and perspectives expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of SafeTREC.