Conducting Community Engagement with a Safe System Lens

October 19, 2021

Safe System CircleNew policy brief addresses how to apply the Safe System approach to community engagement

Few resources, if any, address how to apply the Safe System framework in community engagement and planning efforts. In a new policy brief, "Conducting Community Engagement with a Safe System Lens" UC Berkeley SafeTREC's Senior Policy & Program Analyst Katherine L. Chen and Co-Director Jill F. Cooper provide an overview of how the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safe System elements and principles were adapted for the Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training Program (CPBST) to not only make it more applicable for grassroots community engagement but also to strengthen the impact of the approach. Read the full brief for an overview of their thought process and insights for future community engagement efforts and explore a sampling of highlights below of how the Safe System principles and elements were adapted by CPBST program partners SafeTREC and California Walks (Cal Walks)

Safe System Principles

The six principles of the adapted Safe System approach are:

  • Death or serious injury is unacceptable.
  • Humans make mistakes at one time or another.
  • Multiple protections are crucial.
  • All road users share responsibility.
  • Humans are vulnerable; safety is proactive.
  • Equity is a priority throughout the system.

Safe System Elements of Action

The six elements of the adapted Safe System approach that improve safety for all road users through multiple layers of protection are:

  • Safe speeds. Reduce driver speeds to reduce injury severity for all road users.
  • Safe streets design. Design roads that are people-focused and reduce conflict between users.
  • How people use the road. Create opportunities for and expand awareness of safe walking, biking, and rolling.
  • Post-crash response. Provide physical and emotional care to crash survivors and their families.
  • Capacity building and empowerment. Empower communities to claim ownership of safe streets and public spaces.
  • Policies, planning, and safety data. Create systems change at the local and statewide policy level.

The Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training (CPBST) Program

The CPBST program is a statewide active transportation and community engagement project of SafeTREC and Cal Walks. It uses the Safe System Framework to engage residents and advocates to develop an action plan to improve active transportation safety in their communities, support complete streets planning, and strengthen collaboration with local officials and agency staff. Over the course of approximately two months, we work with a Planning Committee, a group of local stakeholders to develop workshop goals and tailor the curriculum to address the community’s needs and priorities. The workshop convenes the larger local community to conduct walking and biking assessments of key areas in the community, learn about Safe System strategies to alleviate walking and biking concerns, learn about ways they can further Safe System improvements, and develop action plans for priority infrastructure and community programs. Learn more about the CPBST.

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