Background Community engagement and active support by local citizens is a prerequisite for successful and sustainable implementation of road safety initiatives. This study aimed to examine perceptions of British Columbians regarding the level of walking and running safety in their neighbourhood, and the changes they supported most to promote road safety in their environment.
Methods An online survey was conducted on a weighted sample of 842 adult British Columbians in 2018 by Insights West - a full-service market research company that maintains a panel of adult volunteers in Western Canada. Respondents were asked to express their level of perceived walking and running safety in the immediate neighbourhood, defined as the distance of a 20-minute walk, or one-mile from their home, and to rate their support for future modifications to promote road safety in that area.
Results Overall, 67.9% of respondents generally felt safe from collisions with other road users when going on a walk or run in their neighbourhood (‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly agreed’). Some 34.5% said that the speed of cars and trucks make them feel unsafe when walking or running in their neighbourhood (42.1% among participants aged ≥ 65 years). The most commonly supported neighbourhood road safety promoting modifications were having more sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and improved street lights.
Conclusion Although more than two-thirds of British Columbians generally felt safe from pedestrian collisions in their neighbourhood, modifications to the build environment, and effective speed monitoring and control measures would promote the sense of safety among citizens, especially older adults.
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