Group launches ad campaign to improve Indy walkability, prevent pedestrian deaths

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Some eye-catching signs around Indianapolis will go up to draw attention to a growing problem around the city.

WalkWays, a coalition of groups that includes Health by Design, the City of Indianapolis and the Marion County Public Health Department, gave a look Tuesday at signs that will go up on IndyGo buses, yard signs and social media.

4 Fast Facts

  • Group releases “tired faces” ad campaign
  • Campaign meant to raise awareness about pedestrian deaths in Marion County
  • Images will go on buses, yard signs and social media
  • 30 people died in pedestrian-car crashes last year in Marion County

The ads, dubbed “tired faces” show a face with tread marks on it. There are versions in both English and Spanish.

In 2015, 30 people died while walking in Marion County. Organizers hope the signs will remind drivers to watch for pedestrians—and pedestrians to watch where they’re going.

“Pedestrian safety is critically important as we encourage more walking as a way to be active and healthy,” said Kim Irwin, director of Health by Design, which leads WalkWays. “We encourage organizations and individuals to share these safety messages through their own networks and channels, helping us raise awareness, provide education and promote behavioral change.”

The signs feature several phrases:

  • It shouldn’t hurt to use the crosswalk
  • Kids don’t come with turn signals
  • Make eye contact, not body contact
  • You can’t fix a person at a body shop

The campaign was unveiled Tuesday at 34th Street and Moeller Road, one of the city’s most dangerous intersections for walkers.

A year ago, WalkWays analyzed more than 1,100 car-pedestrian crashes in Marion County that happened between 2010 and 2014; during that span, 75 people were killed after being struck by vehicles.

For 2015, the coalition examined Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services records and police reports. The group found that 30 people died in pedestrian-car crashes, accounting for 35 percent of all traffic fatalities in the county. Nearly 20 percent were hit-and-runs; nearly 20 percent happened downtown.

November was the highest month for those incidents, which often happened during daylight hours in dry and clear conditions.

WalkWays completed more walkability audits around the city to identify high-crash zones. The group prioritized them for improvements based on the number of walkers hit by vehicles, the severity of the crashes and several other factors.

The group is working to identify recommended countermeasures, seek infrastructure improvements and raise awareness about safety.

Twelve of the city’s pedestrian safety zones are:

  • Downtown Indianapolis
  • Meridian and Illinois Streets from 14th to 34th streets, including extended portions of 16th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 32nd streets
  • East 38th Street from the State Fairgrounds to Sherman Avenue
  • West 34th and 38th Streets, from Moeller Road west to I-465, including portions of High School and Moller roads
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street from 25th to 30th streets
  • East 10th Street from Woodruff Place to Arlington Avenue
  • West 10th Street from Tibbs Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street
  • East Washington Street from Willard Park to Arlington Avenue, including portions of Michigan, New York and Rural streets and Emerson Avenue
  • West 38th Street between Boulevard Place and Meridian Street
  • West Washington Street from 465 to Holt Road, including portions of Oliver Avenue and Morris Street
  • Areas near Fountain Square and Garfield Park, including extended portions of Madison Avenue, East, Shelby, Morris and Raymond streets
  • Areas near Washington Park and Douglas Park/Golf Course, including extended portions of 25th and 30th Streets and Keystone Avenue

The pedestrian safety campaign is funded by federal transportation money through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. For more information, visit IndyWalkWays.org.