City comparison on pedestrian safety: more traffic lights, strips and islands

In many cities, more people have accidents on foot. The German Traffic Club demands that municipalities do more for safety.

Life dangerous in many places: pedestrians. Photo: dpa

Pedestrians in Germany are relatively safe on the road, but when accidents do occur, the consequences are usually severe. Therefore, cities and municipalities should do more for pedestrian safety – especially for children and seniors. This was the demand of the ecologically oriented Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) in Berlin on Tuesday at the presentation of a city comparison of pedestrian safety.

According to the study, more and more pedestrians have been injured in the last five years in more than half of the 80 cities surveyed, including Wurzburg, Hamburg, Magdeburg, Hildesheim, Freiburg and Karlsruhe.

But even for cities where the number of casualties has been trending downward, the association does not think the all-clear can be given. "In many places, there is no pedestrian strategy," said Anja Hanel, the association’s road safety expert.

Overall, however, walking is relatively safe. In urban areas, an average of about 12 percent of all road traffic accident victims over the past five years were pedestrians – even though nearly 27 percent of all trips in cities are made on foot. However, pedestrians accounted for more than one-third of all road traffic fatalities in urban areas.

Visibility must be increased

In order to increase the road safety of pedestrians, the most important causes of accidents must be addressed. Four out of five pedestrian accidents occur while crossing the street. Here, the municipalities should create sufficient crossing aids, such as traffic lights, crosswalks or center islands, the association demands.

Similarly, the visibility of pedestrians, especially at intersections, should be increased – through the removal of parking spaces near intersections and consistent action against parking violators. "Wrong parking is not a trivial offense, because such vehicles can become a trap for children," says Hanel.

Streetcar or bus stops are also often accident-prone, he adds. To remedy the situation, the traffic lights could be adapted to the standing times of the vehicles. "Then no one would run across the street at a red light to catch the bus," says Hanel. In addition, cars and trucks would have to drive more slowly overall.