Safety Campaign in Santa Ana

By Ryan Johnson, Senior Planner, Alta Planning + Design

If there is any drawback to living the dream of being an active transportation planner, it’s that the payback can be slow. It often takes years or even decades for a plan to come to fruition. That’s not the case, though, when developing an education and outreach campaign for one of our client communities. I recently had the chance to manage a pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign in Santa Ana, California.

Santa Ana’s downtown has connected, walkable streets and sidewalks, but newer parts of the city have wider, faster streets. This, in part, explains why Santa Ana placed third worst of 13 similar-sized California cities for the rate of pedestrian- and bicyclist-involved crashes in the Office of Traffic Safety’s (OTS) most recent rankings. As part of a concerted effort to reverse this trend, the City hired our team to develop a marketing campaign and targeted education program to promote safe roadway behaviors among all users.

With the help of two terrific design consultants, we worked with several local stakeholders to create a bilingual Spanish-English campaign that reflects the City’s vibrant culture and identity. This process involved a public survey, interviews with key leaders in the community, and discussions with City staff.

The OTS grant allowed us to place the campaign graphics on bus stop shelters and streetlight poles across the City. In addition, we created a brochure for distribution at local events, and we launched a campaign web page on the City’s home site:

English Shelter Poster - City Hall 1
Bus stop shelter poster and streetlight pole banners.
Bus stop shelter poster and streetlight pole banners.

The grant also allowed us to provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education to youth in Santa Ana. We conducted assemblies at 29 local elementary schools, and we held four citywide “bicycle rodeos” during already-scheduled community events. Finally, we organized a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor seminar to train 10 community members so that they can now continue the momentum of the project and teach bicycle safety skills to others.

Bicycle Safety Rodeo at Santa Ana College.
Bicycle Safety Rodeo at Santa Ana College.

It was very rewarding to have the fruits of our work immediately visible in the community, and I hope the positive message and graphics can help promote more harmony among all people traveling Santa Ana’s streets.