Charlotte Among Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrian Crashes
Many people in Charlotte, Concord, Fort Mill, Indian Trail and surrounding areas enjoy walking for recreational purposes or in order to commute. A personal injury lawyer knows that these pedestrians face significant risks of becoming injured in a motor vehicle accident.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte is one of the worst cities for pedestrians in the entire nation. While there are some plans in the works that could help to reduce the danger for walkers, those who are on the road on-foot need to be aware that they are at serious risk of injury or even fatalities due to a crash.
Charlotte is Among the Worst Cities for Pedestrians
Several different organizations rank cities in terms of walkability and pedestrian safety. Charlotte was given the dubious honor of being recognized by multiple organizations for its dangerous roads.
A study published in the AARP Bulletin by Smart Growth America ranked the Charlotte metropolitan area as the “10th worst in the country for pedestrians.” This area included Concord and Gastonia as well as Charlotte.
Charlotte also received low marks from the national pedestrian rating system that assigns Walk Scores to different locations. Charlotte was actually given the lowest Walk Score of any large city in the entire country.
There are areas downtown in Charlotte that did better with Walk Score. Center City and First Ward were among several locations described by the Charlotte Observer as “relatively safe for pedestrians.” These specific areas in Charlotte are more comparable to walking-friendly cities like Philadelphia and Boston.
The problem is, the further someone gets away from the uptown area, the bigger the dangers for pedestrians. In some suburban areas near the city of Charlotte, the Walk Scores are below 10. This may not seem that bad, until you know that the Walk Scores scoring methodology grades on a 100-point safety scale. Both the Providence Plantation closet on I-485 and the Sunset Road area to the west of I-77 are areas that have single-digit Walk Scores on a scale of 100.
Certain areas within the state are particularly dangerous. Mecklenburg was the area with the most fatalities. A total of 159 pedestrians died there between 2003 and 2012. Wake County was the second worse, with 122 fatalities during the 2003 to 2012 period.
The Charlotte Department of Transportation has expressed a belief that the roads will get safer. There have been improvements in making Charlotte more walkable over the past decade. Further improvements are expected. This past election day, a bond measure was approved by voters to provide $15 million for the construction of sidewalks and for pedestrian safety initiatives. No bond money was made available in 2012, so this is a positive step forward that could go a long way toward improving conditions for pedestrians.
Building sidewalks is not enough, though. One city official said that the hope is to focus on a complete street environment. The goal is to focus on how walkers will walk both on the street and across the street and to make sure the roads work for them, as well as for other road users.