October 15 of each year is White Cane Safety Day, which brings public recognition to people who are blind and visually impaired and how they contribute to their communities. This day also promotes the White Cane Law, which states drivers must stop 10 feet or more from pedestrians using white canes.
In Wisconsin, the Council connects safety for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired with safety for all. By combining these two ideas, the Council is able to reach a wider audience through White Cane Safety Day proclamations, press events, bus ads, presentations and social media. Here are the highlights from this year’s White Cane Safety Day.
Council representatives accepted White Cane Safety Day proclamations from Eau Claire, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Sun Prairie. Select the image to read the Facebook post about proclamations.
Fifteen proclamations were issued, including a statewide proclamation by Governor Tony Evers. This is the largest number of participating municipalities to date. Municipalities include: Brookfield, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Janesville, La Crosse, Madison, Menomonie, Milwaukee, Neenah, Oshkosh, Stevens Point, Sun Prairie, Watertown, and West Allis.
Denise Jess, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Jason Glozier, Jason Beloungy and Patty Zallar at the Madison press event.
A press conference was held in Madison at the Council with Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Denise Jess, Council CEO/Executive Director. Media outlets attending included Channel 3000 (CBS), NBC15 and WKOW (ABC). All aired pieces – see below under “Media” for links to the pieces.
Adam Lorentz, transit manager for La Crosse; Denise Jess, Council CEO/Executive Director; Rhonda Staats, Council legislative committee chair and board member; and La Crosse resident Liz Fryseth.
Another press conference took place at La Crosse Municipal Transit with Adam Lorentz, Transit Manager for City of La Crosse, representing the mayor and Denise. Two television crews aired pieces – see below under “Media.”
The Kenosha Low Vision Support Group hosted a White Cane Safety Day event.
The Council ran affirmative, ego-boosting bus ads in La Crosse (four buses) and Eau Claire (two buses). The bus ads were funded in part with grant support from the Coulee Region White Cane Club Fund of La Crosse Community Foundation. The ads received endorsement from Rhonda Staats, Council Legislative Committee Chair, and the ADRC of La Crosse County. During the press event in La Crosse, two of the buses were visible at the downtown transit center.
The bus ad messages were:
-Hey – I’m walkin’ here!
-Stopping 10 feet from crosswalks looks good on you!
-Thanks for braking 10 feet from crosswalks – YOU’RE THE BEST!
-You’re so fly – glad you didn’t fly through that intersection. Stopping within 10 feet is easy.
All were branded with the Council’s logo and the message “Stop 10’ from pedestrians” on the bottom.
Denise gave two presentations at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). One was to civil engineers/road designers and the other was to bureau chiefs. Both focused on pedestrian safety facilities such as accessible pedestrian signals, curb ramps with truncated bumps, and other features to promote walkable communities. The purpose of these presentations was to bring lived experience to the forefront when budgeting and designing roadways.
Here is an editorial about the white cane from Neil Heinen with Channel 3000.
The Department of Transportation also ran a social media campaign on pedestrian safety for White Cane Safety Day on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. One post focused on the presentations with bureau chiefs and the other focused on safe pedestrian crossing, using images of Denise crossing at a pedestrian signal near Madison College.
The Council thanks staff and board who were involved in a successful white cane and pedestrian safety campaign in 2019.
Advocacy All Year-Round:
The need for pedestrian safety extends well beyond White Cane Safety Day. Each of us can play an important role in creating communities that are safe and welcoming for all pedestrians. Please help by taking the following actions:
- Advocate for pedestrian accessible facilities, like accessible pedestrian signals, curb ramps with truncated humps, painted crosswalks, curb ramps that line up with the crosswalks and curb bump outs. Read more about walkable communities at WCBlind.org.
- Campaign for increased signage, good fencing and accessible pathways during construction projects.
- Take a positive approach in conversations. Think about how what you want will help the community as a whole.
- Reach out to civic groups where you have connections to see if you might talk with them about the importance of pedestrian safety and driver awareness.
- If your municipality celebrated White Cane Safety Day (see list above) please send a thank-you note to the mayor and city council and include a personal story about the importance of white cane/pedestrian safety.
- Share the Council’s White Cane Day and other pedestrian safety messages on your social media and via email.
By advocating for the White Cane Law and bringing awareness to the importance of making roadways better for everyone, we can work together to make Wisconsin easier and safer to traverse.