September Inspirations

“Safer Streets Priority Finder” Helps Communities Embrace Safe System Approach

Toole Design has developed an interactive tool to help communities identify higher risk portions of the roadway network as part of their safety planning efforts or Vision Zero initiatives. The output is similar to a High Injury Network for bicyclists and pedestrians, but the tool goes further by taking into consideration areas where a disproportionate share of fatal and serious injury crashes have already occurred, as well as areas that have other kinds of factors present that may indicate potential risk of crashes.

“We recognize that many of the tools available for systemic safety analysis have heavy data input requirements or require sophisticated analytic techniques that may be beyond the capacity of many local agencies and advocates for safer streets,” said Jessica Schoner, PhD, Data Science Practice Lead at Toole Design. “In response to these data and analysis constraints, we created the Safer Streets Priority Finder with colleagues from the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, and University of New Orleans Transportation Institute. The project was funded by the USDOT Safety Data Initiative (SDI).”

The Safe Streets Priority Finder provides:

  • A new Modeling Framework that reduces the burden on agencies to produce extensive data and complex analysis
  • Outcomes linked to the planning process, specifically for estimating the cost of crashes, and tied to specific network locations to inform project prioritization
  • A built-in crash dashboard and visualizations for quickly summarizing and sharing findings

“Eventually, we want to build in the ability to overlay the outputs with demographic or socioeconomic status data from the Census bureau to prioritize investments that advance equity in addition to reducing or eliminating deaths and serious injuries,” added Schoner. “In the meantime, we are pleased to be able to offer a free, open-source tool to advocates and agencies that may not otherwise be able to afford a systemic safety analysis.”

The tool is available online for practitioners to start testing now – so we invite you to be a beta-tester! You’ll discover how you can use the tool – using built-in national datasets or local inputs – to assess safety for vulnerable users on your street network and prioritize effective countermeasures. Visit

Diane Lambert to Lead Safe Routes to School Practice

We are pleased to announce that Diane Lambert has been promoted to lead Toole Design’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) practice area. “This promotion is recognition of Diane’s tremendous service to the company and our commitment to the future of Safe Routes to Schools programs nationwide,” said Jennifer Toole. “Diane has been instrumental in weaving together Vision Zero and SRTS – most notably with the Vision Zero for Youth initiative led by our partners at the National Center for Safe Routes to School – and has helped her clients navigate the challenges of moving from in-person to virtual schooling, and back again, without missing a beat.”

“I am excited to serve as Toole Design’s SRTS Practice Lead,” said Diane. “I’ve watched our SRTS work evolve over the past 15 years, and the one thing that has never changed is the energy and commitment from states and localities that is so inspiring. The safety and well-being of children and youth is a universal goal and will always be at the core of what we do as a firm.”

Toole Design currently manages Safe Routes to School projects across the continent, including:

  • Providing staff support for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s SRTS program, helping to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate all aspects of the statewide program.
  • Managing and implementing Education and Outreach for the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools program, one of the largest SRTS programs in the nation.
  • Working on behalf of the Safe Routes to School Program in Austin’s Public Works Department to implement over 40 million dollars in project funds. To date, Toole Design staff have designed and overseen construction of infrastructure projects at over 50 schools.

Tobi Otulana is APBP’s 2021 Young Professional of the Year

Tobi Otulana is facing the camera, straddling a bike in front of the Columbus skyline

Congratulations to Tobi Otulana on being recognized as the 2021 APBP Young Professional of the Year. Tobi is a planner in Toole Design’s Columbus, OH office and was nominated for the award by colleagues at her current and former employers, which speaks volumes in itself! The nomination to the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals notes that “Tobi is always ahead of the curve and pushing everyone around her to do better – particularly when it comes to incorporating equity into planning work and decision-making processes. Her passion for inclusive planning makes projects so much more comprehensive and thoughtful. Her public speaking skills, critical thinking ability, and general passion for her work surpass that of more experienced planners and she has already shown an ability to elevate and inspire others in the field.”

Tobi’s advice to fellow young professionals, especially women of color, who may sometimes experience imposter syndrome is straightforward: “we got this.” You can watch the rest of her acceptance remarks (along with those of other worthy award winners) here.

Looking for a Template for Active Transportation Plans?

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has developed a tremendous resource for local agencies wanting to develop active transportation plans. Created by Toole Design, the Active Transportation Plan Development Guide encompasses national best practices in active transportation planning and guides communities through a seven-step process for creating their own active transportation plans. Although the guide was developed for Ohio communities, the resource is applicable well beyond the borders of the Buckeye State.

There is a two-part webinar to accompany the launch of the guide (September 30 and October 5), and this resource adds to the extensive list of technical assistance tools available through the ODOT website and Active Transportation Academy.


We are always honored to receive the recognition of our peers for our work:

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