There are three solutions and they all have barriers at least as high as fixing streets:
They ignore three rules for those of us who really want to create better communities with less traffic and more transportation options:
1) Law enforcement doesn’t work very well to solve engineering mistakes.
2) Drivers are most careful about their own safety, and less careful about the safety of others.
3) Speed kills and traffic engineers value speed above everything else
The cheapest and easiest way to make the pedestrian environment better is to lower speed limits to 20 mph, 15 mph on local residential and business streets. Lower speed limits might not immediately lower the actual speed of traffic, but over time people would become accustomed to much lower speeds. At that point, they will slow down because 30 mph or 40 mph feels unsafe for them.
Eliminate right turn on red except where a sign allows it. This was the law for most of the 20th century.
Shorten traffic cycles so that pedestrians don’t need to wait more than 20 seconds to cross the street after pushing the button for a walk signal. Give pedestrians an automatic walk signal in every cycle. On intersections where the green cycle only occurs when traffic is present, don’t make pedestrians wait for non-existent traffic by activating a don’t walk cycle across the street. Set traffic cycles to provide reasonable times for pedestrians to slowly cross the street.
Pedestrians are already strictly liable for collisions with cars, if they are hit by one it is doubtful they will be left harmless. Make drivers strictly liable for pedestrians. If they hit one, it is the drivers fault unless it is clear there was nothing they could have reasonably done to avoid the collision. That will equalize responsibility to some extent.
The truth is there are plenty of cheap ways to create a pedestrian friendly environment. The real “cost” is the speed of automobiles. And that is not a price traffic engineers are willing to pay. Until we win public support to demand those changes, they aren’t going to make them.