Optimizing Conditions for Charlotte Pedestrians

Pedestrians face significant risks due to careless motorists or drivers not familiar with how to safely share the road with walkers. Inadequate infrastructure not designed with the needs of pedestrians in mind exacerbates the risks faced by pedestrians.Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests ways cities and municipalities can identify locations in need of improvement to help reduce pedestrian crash risks. 

An experienced pedestrian accident attorney knows roads are often designed with a primary focus on making travel in vehicles easier. As more people are choosing to walk and ride bicycles, a shift must occur to make roads safer for those outside of cars and trucks.

GHSA suggests development of an effective road safety plan can go a long way towards creating an environment reducing pedestrian accident risks. When poorly designed roads are a cause of a pedestrian crash, walkers or surviving family members of those killed in fatal collisions may pursue a claim against agencies responsible. When drivers are to blame, claims may be pursued against motorists.

Improving Road Conditions to Optimize Roads for Pedestrians

GHSA recommendations for municipalities include focusing first on infrastructure in school zones to improve conditions for children who walk to school. Funding is available through the Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) program if conditions are met to qualify for federal grant money.

Schools should be evaluated in terms of collision history, traffic conditions, and current pedestrian use to identify locations where improvements would be most beneficial. If there is little pedestrian traffic, an assessment should be made to determine if this is because of unsafe conditions that could be corrected. Schools should be divided into different categories based on risk level to determine what locations should be targeted for infrastructure improvement.

A safety audit may be utilized to determine whether a school zone or other location has appropriate condition for pedestrians or needs improvement. Factors to consider include sidewalk accessibility, sidewalk conditions, and how sidewalks and motor vehicles relate.

In areas considered safe for pedestrians, there are adequate sidewalks and/or wide road shoulders people can walk on. Sidewalks or road shoulders are located on both sides of the road and are continuous without large gaps. There are not too many driveways and the sidewalks or shoulders are also present around bridges. Sidewalks are not too steep and are well-maintained and free of obstacles that could either temporarily or permanently impede walking. Sidewalks are also removed enough from traffic to be safe, and are well-lighted and well-maintained.

In safe areas for pedestrians, visibility is also important. No fences, plants and trees, or other obstacles should preclude drivers from seeing pedestrians. Adequate lighting ensures pedestrians may be seen even at night.

Results of a safety audit can identify problem areas, which is the first step in establishing an effective road safety plan. After a needs assessment is done to identify issues, a program should be created and implemented. It should be monitored after implementation to determine if it has a positive impact on traffic safety.