Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When crosswalks aren't enough, do more, not less

In a July 4 post, Atlanta columnist Maria Saporta, who was previously trained in urban planning, wonders about crosswalks and what they say about a city's commitment to a true pedestrian environment. Maria shows examples from around the world and brings her point home in Atlanta, where transportation engineers seem to treat pedestrians as second class citizens to the automobile.

Marie notes efforts by PEDS, a local pedestrian advocacy group that I chair, to fight a move toward removing crosswalks that aren't signalized.
...streets like Ponce de Leon could end up not having any crosswalks for blocks — a move that would increase jaywalking and the likelihood of accidents between pedestrians and cars. Certainly, that’s not a positive direction for us.
PEDS addressed the issue in a recent e-newsletter:
After reading GDOT's justification for removing a crosswalk on Roswell Road, we reminded District 7 engineer Bryant Poole that federal guidelines recommend that where crosswalks alone are insufficient to create safe crossings, transportation agencies need to do more, not less. High-speed multi-lane roads like Roswell Road account for 65 percent of all pedestrian fatalities nationwide. Removing crosswalks does not solve the problem of getting pedestrians safely across the street.

Instead of removing unsignalized crosswalks, we encourage GDOT to add rectangular rapid flash beacons. Following installation of these low-cost devices in St. Petersburg, Florida, driver compliance with crosswalk laws increased to 88 percent.

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