New Research Brief: Impact of the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training

“The findings suggest that respondents are looking for practical guidance and assistance in navigating the complex processes involved in grant writing, policy advocacy, and securing support from various stakeholders."

- 2023 CPBST Follow-Up Survey author, Lekshmy Hirandas

May 2, 2023

In April, 2023 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the latest traffic safety data, noting that 42,939 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, a 10 percent increase from 2020. Key findings from the report also reveal increasingly dangerous and unsafe roadways for vulnerable road users. Traffic fatalities in 2021 vs 2020 increased 14% for older adults (65+), 13% for pedestrians, and 1.9% for pedalcyclists. These deaths are unacceptable and preventable. Ensuring that our communities are safe for walking, biking and rolling is critical for community health. 

One way that UC Berkeley SafeTREC aims to achieve that is through the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training Program (CPBST), a joint effort with California Walks (Cal Walks) and funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). The CPBST program's main objective is to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety by educating residents and safety advocates, empowering community partners to advocate for safety improvements in their neighborhoods, and fostering collaborations with local officials and agency staff. To date, more than 120 community workshops have been conducted throughout California. The online interactive map of the CPBST program provides access to the summary report, where available, for each workshop, featuring community recommendations for pedestrian/bicycle safety projects, policies and programs (a web accessible, text version of the map is also available).

The 2023 CPBST Follow-Up Survey

In an effort to assess the impact of the CPBST program in 2022, UC Berkeley SafeTREC conducted a follow-up survey with planning committee members from communities that had hosted CPBST workshops in the last five years (2018-2022) to evaluate the progress of the action plans formulated during each workshop and to determine if the communities needed additional support from the project team. A total of 108 survey replies were received, representing over 45 different workshop sites. Explore a sampling of key findings below and access the full research brief "Impact of the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training: Program Insights from the 2023 Follow-Up Survey" by author Lekshmy Hirandas.

Key Findings

  • 96% indicated that the CPBST workshop they attended ‘met my expectations,’ ‘exceeded my expectations,’ or ‘greatly exceeded my expectations’
  • In response to a question about the occurrence of community events after the CPBST workshop, "over 55% of the 59 respondents indicated events such as Safe Routes To School (SRTS), walk/bike audits, and regular meetings with community members. 41% of these were organized by the participants themselves, with SRTS-related programming being the most popular. Around 12% of respondents attended events with the city council or elected officials, while only 2% took part in events with planning agencies/professionals. These results suggest that CPBST workshops have had a significant impact on community engagement and participation in pedestrian and bicycle safety initiatives."
  • According to the survey results, crosswalk improvements and sidewalk improvements were mentioned by 24% and 22% of respondents respectively as planned interventions. 
  • The study "sorted the survey responses into three groups based on the workshop year – pre-pandemic workshops (2018 and 2019), workshops during the pandemic (2020 and 2021), and workshops in 2022. The analysis revealed that the proportion of communities conducting walking/biking assessments increased from 21% in pre-pandemic workshops to 35% in 2022. However, this rise in assessment activities does not correspond to an increase in temporary build projects or funding applications in 2022. There was a decline of over 50% in temporary builds and over 80% in funding applications in 2022."
  •  Lack of funding emerged as the biggest barrier to implementing road safety interventions across all response groups, indicating that financial constraints are the most significant hurdle in executing the planned projects. In addition to funding, other barriers that emerged included the lack of support from the county, city, or community, a shift in priorities in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and staffing shortages.
  • The survey responses suggest that "a significant majority of respondents (68%) believe that SafeTREC and Cal Walks can help with grant writing and policy advocacy. This is reflected in the previous year’s survey responses as well. Respondents suggest the creation of follow-up advocacy training and a toolkit that can provide clear steps on policy advocacy and project implementation, indicating a desire for structured and practical guidance in these areas."
  • 60% of respondents feel that "SafeTREC and Cal Walks can assist in addressing the lack of support from the city, county, or community. Respondents suggest that workshops on how to seek out funding, gain community support, and work with departments that are responsible for project approvals can help in this regard. This indicates a desire for practical guidance and assistance in navigating the bureaucratic processes involved in securing support from various stakeholders."

Read the full follow-up survey for more highlights, potential opportunities for addressing challenges, and next steps. Visit the program page to learn more about the CPBST, join an upcoming workshop, and access pedestrian and bicycle safety resources.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.