Today, more people are turning to bicycles and walking for transportation, exercise and overall environmental awareness. While this is great news for the waistline and the planet, it can be challenging on roadways in areas that haven’t been specifically designed to handle both foot and vehicular traffic.
In 2004 and again in 2011, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) selected Atlanta, Georgia as one of 22 “Pedestrian Safety Focus Cities” across the United States. Unfortunately this is a dubious distinction, as it means that Atlanta is a city where pedestrian deaths are higher than the national average, at a rate of more than 20 deaths annually.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if the proportions of fatalities stay the same, “we can expect that one pedestrian will be injured every 8 minutes and one will die every 2 hours in a traffic crash this year”. These are sobering statistics.
Having been selected as a focus city, Atlanta is eligible for pedestrian grants to use for enforcement and education, to make Atlanta safer for everyone. The Georgia Guidebook for Pedestrian Planning was one such educational initiative sponsored by the Georgia Department of Transportation and the FHWA, and focuses on strategies for statewide improvements. The Atlanta Region Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways (BikePed) Plan to propose specific recommendations for Atlanta-regional shared-use roads and pathways.
New technology is evolving for pedestrians and drivers alike, and overall pedestrian safety improvements employ both. Three examples of newer high-tech solutions are:
Despite all the high-tech solutions for safety, there really is no replacement for good old, common sense. Be aware of your surroundings as you walk or ride. Wear reflective gear. Teach children safe walking habits. If you are in a busy area, forgo headphones or your cell phone so you are aware of what’s happening around you.
For more information, visit the NHTSA website, “Everyone is a Pedestrian”. And if you are injured while biking or walking in the metro Atlanta area, talk to attorney Bruce Hagen about your options for compensation for your injuries.