Yield To Pedestrians?: Examining Infrastructure and Defensive-Minded Methodologies in Securing Pedestrian-Rich Environments

– Executive Summary

Urban municipalities are full of pedestrian-rich environments with limited mitigation measures to prevent vehicle-caused pedestrian fatalities. Limited pedestrian protections both represent an attractive target for nefarious actors to commit vehicle ramming attacks and create a heightened risk of an accidental vehicle-caused pedestrian fatality. Stakeholders must leverage their intimate familiarity with their local environments, remain knowledgeable of emerging nefarious trends and tactics, and utilize various defensive-minded methodologies to protect the innocent within their pedestrian-rich environments.

  1. Review of Available Infrastructure

This thesis identifies and examines the types of available infrastructure and illustrates the differences between permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary infrastructure. This thesis also identifies the rating systems utilized to gauge the effectiveness of the infrastructure. Various roadway design strategies, known as the streetscape methodology, are defined and examined to illustrate the techniques a stakeholder can utilize to further secure their environment from deadly vehicle versus pedestrian collisions and vehicle ramming attacks (VRA).


This thesis identifies both the target hardening and protective security methodologies. Through this research, this thesis argues that both of these methodologies are homogenous and defensive minded. By utilizing the applicable share of both methodologies to protect pedestrian-rich environments, this thesis creates a new model: the target hardening/​protective security spectrum (THPSS).  THPSS is then dissected into the main dimensions: completely open, completely hardened, and the hybrid model, as they are the most common nationwide and are also the most easily delineated to a layman stakeholder. Each dimension of the THPSS is accompanied by at least one example of a real-world event or location within the United States.


The research concludes that though many pedestrian-rich environments are vulnerable to vehicle-caused fatalities, there are defensive-minded methodologies and a homogenous framework for securing urban pedestrian-rich environments. The research identifies numerous urban policies, programs, events, and locations that can be improved to create a more secure environment for pedestrians from vehicle-caused fatalities:

  1. Outdoor dining program managers must mandate measures to mitigate the risk of a vehicle-caused pedestrian fatality. If mitigation measures are deemed too costly or otherwise not able to be feasibly implemented, a permanent outdoor dining program should not be administered.
  2. The use of the THPSS methodology can be applied to protecting street fair patrons from vehicle-caused fatalities. By utilizing the methodology, combined with their specific knowledge and expertise, stakeholders can implement the appropriate protective measures necessary to effectively make their environments more secure for pedestrians.
  3. The New York City (NYC) Department of Transportation must take into consideration the possibility of a VRA at an NYC Open Streets event. The entire NYC Open Streets program must be either eliminated or significantly changed to include the content spelled out in this thesis.
  4. The use of the THPSS methodology can be applied to protecting pedestrians at both large and small road races. Stakeholders of road races must utilize their  knowledge of their respective events with the THPSS methodology to come up with practical ways to best protect their events from attack.
  5. Many large urban public parks have gaps in their perimeter and possess limited infrastructure, which creates an avenue that nefarious actors can exploit. Stakeholders of large urban parks should survey their respective environments for these gaps and implement measures to mitigate VRAs from occurring within park boundaries.

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