Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pedestrians get better press

Pedestrians – and their safety – got national attention this week. And in the process, a redesigned Charlotte intersection got some national attention, too.

Tuesday, a national transportation advocacy group, Transportation for America (T4 America) released its report, "Dangerous by Design 2011," looking at what it called an epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths. From 2000 to 2009, it said, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in this country – the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month. More than 688,000 were injured. Nearly 12 percent of total traffic deaths are pedestrians, but, the report says, state departments of transportation have pretty  much ignored pedestrian safety if you look at how budgets are allocated. Only 1.5 percent of available federal money goes to projects to retrofit dangerous roads and streets or create safer alternatives.

The report uses a pedestrian danger index based on a variety of factors and ranks the U.S. metro areas. The most dangerous, in order: Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Miami-Fort Lauderdale (all in Florida), Riverside-San Bernardino Calif., Las Vegas, Memphis, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas-Forth Worth. All are Sun Belt cities, and all but Memphis saw major growth booms in the last half of the 20th century, when suburban-style development catered almost exclusively to automobiles. 

Atlanta was No. 11. Raleigh-Cary was No. 13. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord hit No. 17.

Fully a third of Americans can't or don't drive, and for most, being able to walk places is important. They are our children, our young teens, our elderly and our disabled. The City of Charlotte has pushed hard, and admirably, in the past 10 years to make the city better and safer for pedestrians, by ordering sidewalks to be built in new subdivisions, building sidewalks where they're lacking in earlier developments, and retro-fitting intersections to add crosswalks and pedestrian refuges.  Here's to an even lower spot on the next ranking.

One of those retrofitted Charlotte intersections (at top) got national display at, with a Tuesday piece on "Morning Edition"  – "As America Ages, A Push To Make Street Safer."   The piece talked about efforts to improve safety for the elderly, both pedestrians and drivers.   Although Charlotte isn't mentioned in the piece, see that photo at the top? That's Rozzelles Ferry Road, redesigned by the city to add bike lanes, crosswalks and extended sidewalks.

Photo credit: NPR and National Complete Streets Coalition.


tarhoosier said...

There are plenty of non drivers in the vicinity of that intersection. I came through there this week for the first time in quite a while and was startled at the pleasant appearance in an area not accustomed to quality public spaces. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if all the money shifted from roads/bridges were not diverted to light rail, some of these improvements would happen quicker?

Anonymous said...

Um, the 25% local match on light rail construction from a local half-cent sales tax, which has never been shifted or diverted from roads/bridges.

consultant said...


I'm glad you're focusing on pedestrians in this post. Keep doing it.

We're starting on our trek off the plateau and down the slope of oil scarcity. A decade from now we're all going to do more walking.

So NASCAR fans. After you consume beer & bar-b-que tomorrow, go for a walk.

Get use to it.