Around the Country, Calls for Pedestrian Safety Grow Louder

The Dangerous by Design report on pedestrian fatalities from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership has been getting a lot of attention from the Streetsblog Network (and from the national press) this week. Researched by Michelle Ernst of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the analysis in the report gives advocates a powerful tool when talking to local officials about the need for safer streets.

In Chicago, the Active Transportation Alliance rallied at an intersection where a pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run last month to demand safer conditions in that city. Five Chicagoans have died in the last month after being hit by drivers.

From the Active Transportation Alliance blog:

4086732888_756d0b70e4.jpgA Chicago sidewalk near the spot where Martha Gonzalez was killed by a hit-and-run driver October 13. (Photo: Steven Vance of Steven Can Plan)

Active Trans and Center for Neighborhood Technology called
on our leaders today to make streets safer for pedestrians.
Transportation for America, a national campaign, released a national report that ranks Chicagoland 41st in a list of the 50 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the country for pedestrians.

We gathered at 18th and Halsted streets this morning with
representatives from Chicago Police and the 25th Ward to talk about
street design and the laws that make it easier for drivers to disregard
pedestrians.

Martha Gonzalez was a victim of fatal crash at that intersection last month and it was powerful to have her family there.

Tell your senator to support HB43! This legislation would require
drivers to STOP for pedestrians. These deaths are preventable and we
have solutions that have proven effective in other communities. Call on
your leaders to act now!

The report ranked Louisville, Kentucky, as the seventh most dangerous metro area with more than 1 million residents. Network member Broken Sidewalk notes that this is in spite of a relatively high rate of spending on pedestrian infrastructure:

If Louisville is spending among the most per person for pedestrian
improvements but still ranks among the worst metro areas for safety,
then we’re either not putting our money in the right places or there’s
a more fundamental problem that must be addressed.

I’m not going to try and diagnose these problems right now, but I
would be willing to guess that addressing speed will be a key factor.
Dangerous by Design points out the alarming truth about a pedestrian’s
survival rate when struck at various speeds. When hit at 20MPH, your
chances of recovery are good at 95 percent.  As speed increases, survival rate
drops rapidly.  At 30MPH, the rate stands at 55 percent and at 40MPH your
chances of survival are only 15 percent. Considering so many of Louisville’s
arterials have a posted speed limit of 45 (or sometimes more) miles per
hour, it’s no wonder that so many pedestrian deaths occur on arterial
roads.

Among the many other network blogs covering the report are Bike Delaware News, Discovering Urbanism and Greater City Providence.

  • cyclist/ped/rarely drive

    peds, at least in nyc should use common sense, don’t jay walk, obey the crossing signals and do not walk in street or bike lane. just this week i counted 15 people walking in the street on a one bock stretch of 42nd street. i know this saves valuable time but it puts your life or the life of cyclists at risk

  • CPRD – the whole idea behind “dangerous by design” is that some intersections are just not safe the way they currently exist and others clearly are safer.

    Traffic design in many situations simply doesn’t work with the way we as people are hardwired – maybe it would be nice if we were hardwired to be robots and follow the letter of the law always, but that’s not realistic. That’s where good design comes in. Good design works with human nature to give all traffic participants a better way to not come into harm or cause harm to others.

  • Kaja

    Crosswalks are a race condition, solved by LPIs.

    Ped and car traffic get go-lights in the same direction at the same time. By law, drivers are supposed to yield, but if everyone’s waiting for the light, then when the light goes green, there’s no one in the crosswalk. So the driver steps on the gas.

    At the same moment, the first peds step into the crosswalk. Now everyone’s “on their accelerator” and the driver’s turning into the peds. If he obeys the law, he moves his foot to the brake, during which time his car is still moving forward.

    If the driver is quick enough, he can beat the ped into the crosswalk, at which point he legally retains the right-of-way or at least can intimidate the ped into staying out his way.

    Everyone is encouraged to rush into the intersection to acquire the “lock”.

    I think this is what killed Seth on 9ave, and most everyone else who’s died in a crosswalk with the light.

    LPIs /everywhere/ please, of at least three seconds.

  • Bob

    Kaja,
    Good analysis. I’m constantly surprised LPI’s aren’t implemented everywhere in NYC. They’d cost nothing to implement and involve no new infrastructure, and even the most braindead moses-era thinker can see why they’re useful.

    I’m currently living in Pittsburgh, and even here, where almost everything is car-centric and most places barely have sidewalks, every intersection with a pedestrian signal either uses an LPI or a Barnes-Dance sequence.

  • Make that number of pedestrian deaths six and not five.
    The unborn child of the pregnant mother, Kim Brown, was delivered but did not survive. The child was delivered 2-3 months early (Kim was only pregnant for 6 or 7 months).
    See the rest of Chicago’s monthly carnage:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/4086732358/

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