With parents re-thinking trick-or-treating and how to celebrate with their children, Halloween will be a different experience in this COVID-19 era.
And while masks, health precautions and how to safely give out candy are on everyone’s mind, Vision Zero SA reminds us that COVID-19 has already resulted in an increase in San Antonio’s pedestrian population – even before the most pedestrian-filled holiday of the year begins.
With stay-at-home orders in place for most of the first half of the year, many residents took to the streets to walk their neighborhoods, and they’ve continued the practice. The City initiated a pilot program to encourage more bike and foot traffic called “Share the Streets,” where some local streets were closed to thru-traffic to allow citizens to safely social distance while outside.
The good news is that during the first eight months of COVID-19, there were zero bicycle deaths in San Antonio.
Still, there’s some irony to all this: data suggests that despite businesses, governments and schools being shut down for months, car crashes with fatal injuries continued to outpace previous years in the Alamo City: In the first eight months of 2020, vehicular deaths were higher than for the same time period in the previous four years, yet car crashes overall were down 24 percent. Sadly, pedestrian deaths within the same time frame remained constant.
From our Vision Zero Severe Pedestrian Injury Area Report, we’ve learned that September is the most dangerous month in San Antonio for pedestrians, and that more pedestrians are hurt after hours (6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.) than at any other time.
More telling is that roughly 1 percent of the City’s roadways account for 42% of all fatal and suspected serious pedestrian injury crashes.
Vision Zero SA is taking this information, identifying the problems and creating “interventions” to help put an end to these injuries and truly achieve “Vision Zero.”
That makes safety even more paramount as Halloween and the cooler weather brings out even more pedestrians who will be enjoying the outdoors. This is a good time to talk about eliminating distracted driving—which continues to account for half of all vehicular crashes in San Antonio.
To help educate drivers about adapting their behavior behind the wheel, we’ve launched a pair of videos that use humor to help drive home the point. The videos are tongue-in-cheek, and I encourage you to check them out below.
Finally, no Vision Zero Halloween blog post regarding child safety would be complete without giving some advice:
- Add some color to those all-black costumes to improve visibility
- Use lights or glowing items as props
- Make sure your child’s vision is clear within any masks
- Wear comfortable shoes
And have a safe and happy Halloween!
Joe Conger is a Senior Public Information Officer for San Antonio's Public Works Department. He's inflating his bike tires and waiting for the sidewalks to be finished around Hwy 281 so he can catch a VIA bus to work.