Last fall, leaders in 23 Wisconsin communities joined Governor Tony Evers in proclaiming October 15 White Cane Safety Day. White Cane Safety Day is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of White Cane Laws and other pedestrian safety measures. We’re grateful to all the local officials who stepped up to champion pedestrian safety in their communities!
But making our streets safer for pedestrians is not a once-a-year obligation. Bringing about meaningful change requires a long-term, multi-faceted, strategic effort. We invite you to be part of the ongoing campaign!
The Council recently wrote to those 23 local leaders thanking them for their commitment to pedestrian safety and offering ideas for building on that momentum. Now we’re working to expand the number of municipalities taking part in the movement. We hope you will join us in a grassroots push to get more local leaders involved. Please consider asking elected officials in your community to be part of the solution!
This is the perfect time to take action on this issue! Warmer weather is finally upon us, meaning more pedestrians are out and about and more intersections are being disrupted by road repairs. That makes attention to pedestrian safety especially important this time of year.
Below is some sample language you can adapt when you write or talk to a community leader about becoming a champion for pedestrian safety. Be sure to include your personal message and describe your own experience as a pedestrian trying to avoid dangerous situations. Remember: As a constituent, your voice matters to them, and your advocacy can make a real difference!
Dear Mayor/Town Chairperson/City Administrator:
Every Wisconsin community needs to pay greater attention to pedestrian safety. Now that warmer weather is upon us, more pedestrians are the street, and with road repair season in full stride, more intersections and crosswalks are risky for people traveling on foot. This is a critical issue for those of us living with vision loss, but the reality is that nearly a third of Wisconsinites are nondrivers, and EVERYBODY is a pedestrian some of the time.
There are many actions you can take to make our streets safer for pedestrians. One of the most meaningful things our community can do is create a “Vision Zero” plan. Vision Zero is a movement aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities through comprehensive, cross-disciplinary local planning and cooperation. Many U.S. cities are already on board, and more are joining the network each year. More information is available at VisionZeroNetwork.org
Here are a few easier, less intensive ideas to consider as well:
- Proclaim October 15 White Cane Safety Day in our community this fall. Last year 23 municipal leaders across the state and Gov. Evers issued proclamations. This can be accompanied by PSAs, bus ads, and other public education and outreach activities.
- Join me on a “walk audit” to evaluate how accessible our streets are for pedestrians.
- Initiate plans to make a troublesome intersection safer by installing pedestrian safety features such as crossing signals.
- Check out the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Non-Driver ArcGIS Online Application and encourage city planners to use this valuable tool to gauge transit needs and allocate pedestrian resources.
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired is available as a resource. The Council is always happy to give a presentation on accessible roadway features or talk to city planners about what the Council has learned over many years working on pedestrian safety issues.
Thank you for considering becoming a local champion for pedestrian safety.
[Your Name Here]