Since 1964, October 15 has been designated nationally as White Cane Safety Day. White Cane Safety Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of Wisconsin’s White Cane Law, which requires drivers to stop at least 10 feet from a pedestrian using a white cane or service dog. Every year, the Council works with local leaders to officially recognize White Cane Safety Day through a formal proclamation. Last fall, leaders in 23 Wisconsin communities joined Governor Tony Evers in formally proclaiming October 15 White Cane Safety Day.
Building awareness of the White Cane Law is important in itself, but it will take much more than a once-a-year push to make our streets safer for pedestrians. Bringing about meaningful change requires a long-term, multi-faceted, strategic effort, and we believe White Cane Safety Day can be a springboard to a much more ambitious campaign. So this year, we’ve raised the bar and are taking the opportunity to promote pedestrian safety on a broader scale.
This summer, the Council wrote to those 23 local elected officials thanking them for their commitment to pedestrian safety and offering ideas for building on the momentum of White Cane Safety Day. Our suggestions, in addition to issuing a proclamation, included:
- Creating a “Vision Zero” plan aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities through comprehensive, cross-disciplinary local planning and cooperation.
- Joining a community member on a “walk audit” to evaluate how accessible our streets are for pedestrians.
- Initiating plans to make a troublesome intersection safer by installing pedestrian safety features such as crossing signals.
- Checking out the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Non-Driver ArcGIS Online Application and encouraging city planners to use this valuable tool to gauge transit needs and allocate pedestrian resources.
Now we’re working to expand the number of municipalities taking part in the movement. We’ve also reached out to our network of grassroots advocates, asking them to encourage leaders in their communities to make pedestrian safety a top priority. And in early September, we collaborated with Sierra Club-Wisconsin Chapter and 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin on a webinar, “Make Way for Pedestrians,” that outlined strategies for improving pedestrian safety in your community. You can watch the recorded webinar online below:
If you’re interested in joining the effort and helping promote pedestrian safety in your community, you can find a White Cane Safety Day Toolkit containing sample letters, social media posts and other resources on our event webpage.