April 1, Bloomington — The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has announced an exciting new effort in its campaign to fight the dangerous epidemic of distracted walking, by targeting one of the metro area’s most dangerous areas for distracted pedestrians: the Mall of America.
“Distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year,” noted MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher at a press conference in front of the third floor Shake Shack. “Exactly why it’s time to do something about the truly dangerous activity of distracted walking.”
“Mall safety is a two-way street,” added the commissioner.
Carnage from distracted walking
Commissioner Anderson Kelliher sat down with Streets.mn to give the inside scoop on the problem. As MnDOT’s Share the Road website noted, “Pedestrians and motorists are equally responsible for pedestrian safety. Motorist behaviors cause about half of all pedestrian-vehicle crashes and pedestrian behaviors cause the other half.”
Commissioner Anderson Kelliher further explained: “Since pedestrians are responsible for half of all crashes, we expect that half of those crashes still occur in an environment completely free of cars, such as inside the Mall of America. Halving fatalities sounds like a big improvement, but the extreme congestion at the Mall of America makes it one of the deadliest pedestrian environments in Minnesota.”
Mall-goers frequently are glued to their phones, causing hundreds of deadly collisions between pedestrians each year. Property damage has also occurred at the hands of 3 mph bipeds, including hundreds of upturned mall carts each year.
New campaign to promote awareness
A large banner will be installed over the new north entrance to the Mall. To encourage safety, patrons are encouraged to read the banner while driving, not walking.
Inside the mall, a new banner will remind pedestrians that “Mall safety is a two-way street.” Volunteers will be handing out tips to visitors. A safe reading area will be provided for pedestrians to pull over and absorb the information prior to beginning their shopping.
The following information will be distributed to each pedestrian entering the mall:
Look before you cross store entrances
- Most crashes occur at intersections of two pedestrians.
- Stop and make eye contact with all pedestrians who might be in your path.
- Look at ALL lanes that enter and exit the store before crossing.
Make yourself visible
- Stand clear of plants, benches and other objects before attempting to cross a store entrance.
- Cross only near well-lit doors.
- Wear bright-colored clothing.
- Mount a safety flag on a wheelchair, motorized cart or stroller.
Avoid dangerous and distracted behaviors
- Cross store entrances only at designated points.
- Remove headphones before each entrance, and stay off mobile phones.
- Don’t rely on signals. Remember, even if you have the right-of-way, you probably shouldn’t expect to have the right-of-way.
- If intoxicated, don’t walk without assistance.
Bloomington partnering to provide engineering improvements to the Mall
The City of Bloomington is also committed to engineering changes to improve safety of pedestrians inside the mall. “With enough money, we can make the inside of the Mall of America as safe and enjoyable for pedestrians as the rest of the City of Bloomington,” said Julie Long, Bloomington’s city engineer, noting that the following images from the City’s Alternative Transportation Plan would guide the city’s approach to making a vibrant and safe mall walking environment:
To help facilitate the financing of these improvements, the city will be waiving the Mall of America’s property taxes for an additional 25 years.