Campaign aims to make streets safer for walkers and bikers

Campaign aims to make streets safer for walkers and bikers

October 04, 2018

The Drive 2B Better TV commercials feature pedestrians and cyclists wearing eye catching gear, like this bicyclist who is covered in blinking lights. The narrator asks drivers, "What will it take for you to notice me?"

Sixteen local groups, ranging from health organizations to cyclist groups to government, have banded together to launch a new community campaign aimed at reducing the number of crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists. The effort features a new media campaign that asks drivers to remember the three S’s of safe driving:

  • slowing down
  • scanning for pedestrians
  • spacing their vehicle at least three feet away from bicyclists

The campaign’s website – drive2Bbetter.com – features important safety tips for drivers.

Nearly 4,000 injuries and deaths involving motor vehicles and bicyclists/pedestrians occurred in Rochester from 2010-2017.1 In fact, data shows that a pedestrian or cyclist is involved in a crash 1.3 times per day in Rochester, and driver error is the cause of 94 percent of crashes.2 Injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes are not random and – because they are preventable – are not accidents. That’s why the campaign specifically uses the term “crash” vs. “accident” to make that point.

Why focus on drivers? Because drivers have the most power on the road. A driver crashing into a pedestrian or bicyclist has a high probability of injuring or killing them. If struck by a vehicle traveling 40 mph, only one in 10 pedestrians will survive a crash. But if struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, nine out of 10 pedestrians will survive. In a recent survey,3 more than half of Monroe County drivers admitted that they frequently exceed the speed limit.

Enforcement of speed limits, traffic engineering and education campaigns are three ways communities improve traffic safety. In terms of enforcement, local police departments are out every day working to make our streets safer. The campaign also comes at a time when cities and towns in Monroe County are using traffic engineering to create more walkable and bikeable communities. Traffic slowing features, such as curb bump outs, raised crosswalks, and buffered bike lanes, continue to be installed in Rochester and surrounding communities.

Yet residents are still concerned for their safety. A 2018 survey showed that only two out of five residents feel very safe while walking and only one out of five feel very safe while bicycling locally. That is why key local organizations began working together to develop a strategy that educates people on how to keep our family, friends and neighbors safe. Although there have been traffic safety messages from local and statewide groups, these efforts had not yet been coordinated in Rochester to have a greater community-wide impact.

To address this challenge, Causewave Community Partners and Common Ground Health have spent the last two years teaming up with several local organizations, including AARP, Center for Disability Rights, City of Rochester, City of Rochester Police Department, Genesee Transportation Council, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Rochester, Monroe County Department of Health, Monroe County Department of Public Safety, MVP Healthcare, Reconnect Rochester, Regional Transit Service, Rochester Cycling Alliance, School 19-Rochester City School District, and United Way of Greater Rochester. 

“Whenever we tackle an issue as complex and important as this one, we know it will take the work of many partners to have the impact we’re after,” said Todd Butler, President and CEO of Causewave Community Partners. “We’ve worked for nearly two years with local organizations and Antithesis Advertising to develop a strategy and messaging that will change driver behavior. By delivering a simple, focused message around slowing, scanning and spacing, we’re giving drivers tools to improve safety for everyone who uses the road.”

Rochester advertising agency Antithesis Advertising donated time and talent totaling more than $80,000 to develop the campaign’s advertising and social media presence. The advertising features attention-grabbing images of pedestrians and bicyclists who’ve taken extreme measures to be noticed on the road. The copy asks drivers a very straightforward question, “What will it take for you to notice me?”

“When we were first asked to help on this effort, we were blown away by the number of bicyclists and pedestrians injured or killed by cars in our area each year,” said Larry Kleehammer, partner at Antithesis Advertising. “So our goal with this campaign was to get people to sit up and take notice. Let’s get them thinking and talking about the issue.”

“Driver education about pedestrian and bicycle laws is needed to help encourage people to walk, run and bike locally, and feel safe while doing so,” said Mike Bulger, healthy communities project coordinator with Common Ground Health. In a recent survey, four out of five Monroe County residents said they are very familiar with vehicle laws. But only one out of five said they are very familiar with bicycle laws, and less than two in five are very familiar with pedestrian laws3.

“In the City of Rochester, 27 percent of households do not have access to a vehicle,4 so many residents don’t have a choice whether they walk, bike or use a wheelchair on sidewalks or streets,” Bulger said. “If we can get drivers to slow, scan and space their vehicles every time they’re behind the wheel, lives will be saved.”

Nearly 30 Rochester-area media partners will contribute free space and time for the campaign through Causewave Community Partners. Campaign materials will start showing up across the community in the coming weeks. For more information on the campaign, go to drive2Bbetter.com.

1Monroe County Crash Map provided by Reconnect Rochester

2NHTSA Crash Survey, February 2015

3Traffic Safety Perception Study, conducted by the Harris Poll. This was an online survey with Monroe County, NY residents from March 22 to April 8, 2018.

4American Community Survey’s (US Census Bureau) latest Five-Year Estimates

Related Coverage:

Monroe County PostCoalition launches campaign to make Rochester roads safer

The Wedge NewspaperCoalition Launches Campaign to Make Roads Safer for Bikes, Cars & Pedestrians

In Good Health - Making Rochester a Safer Community for Road Users

Rochester BeaconA healthy Rochester is more than great health care

Rochester Business JournalEfforts continue to curb distracted driving accidents