Enforcing traffic laws and regulating pedestrians, motorists, and other roadway users is a key element for ensuring a safe and healthy walking environment. Enforcement is not limited to law officers issuing tickets; enforcement activities can involve a variety of ‘carrots and sticks’ to encourage certain behaviors and deter others. Enforcement programs can be used to educate roadway users about the traffic laws that govern them, serve as periodic reminders to obey traffic rules, encourage safer behaviors, and monitor and protect public spaces, in part through code enforcement. They can also help reinforce and support educational programs and messages.
The main goal of enforcement strategies is to deter unsafe behaviors of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and to encourage all road users to obey traffic laws and share the road safely. There are a variety of behaviors that can be targeted through enforcement.
Unsafe driver behaviors include:
- Speeding through residential streets and school zones. (Speed is directly related to crash frequency and severity.)
- Failing to yield to pedestrians, especially in crosswalks. (The law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks; it is a law that is often ignored.)
- Running red lights or stop signs.
- Passing stopped vehicles (such as school buses).
- Parking or stopping in crosswalks.
Unsafe pedestrian behaviors include:
- Failing to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
- Crossing a street at an undesirable location
- Darting out between parked motor vehicles.
- Wearing dark clothes when there is poor lighting.
Unsafe bicyclist behaviors include:
- Riding into traffic without looking left, right and left again.
- Riding against traffic instead of with the traffic flow.
- Turning left without looking and signaling.
- Failing to obey traffic signs and signals.
- Failing to yield for pedestrians.
- Failing to cede the right-of-way to pedestrians on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
- Riding out from a driveway or between parked vehicles.
- Failing to wear a bike helmet.
Enforcement is one of the toolboxes that can be employed to meet the goals of the Pedestrian Master Plan. However, enforcement used alone is not likely to have a long-term effect. Communities must utilize a combination of toolbox strategies to address specific needs and achieve long-term results. Enforcement includes city officials and staff, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians all working in conjunction with law enforcement. Working together to enforce rules for safe walking, bicycling, and driving makes it safer and easier for everyone to walk and bicycle.
The enforcement toolbox has five sections:
- Campaigns & Programs—Tools include messages and approaches to improve pedestrian safety and the walking environment by enforcing current laws, codes, and regulations.
- Technology & Practice—Tools include patrols and speed monitoring techniques.
- Infrastructure Changes—Most infrastructure changes can be found in the design toolbox, but striping and signage are also important regulatory and enforcement elements.
- Law Enforcement Methods: Warnings & Citations—Tools include penalties for violating codes, laws, and/or regulations.
- Community-Based Strategies—In addition to enforcement activities by law enforcement personnel, community members can use these tools to address neighborhood concerns.