According to the Magazine of the Urban Land Institute, Vista Avenue in Boise, Idaho presents unique risks and obstacles to pedestrians. At the street’s busiest intersection at Overland Road, there are no crosswalks for pedestrians, no stop signs, and no clear path for pedestrians to get from one side of the road to the other. Vista Avenue is a busy thoroughfare, with business and shops to draw pedestrians and drivers alike. It is also a major rush-hour route that sees a great deal of traffic. Now, with grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Boise’s Vista avenue may become more walkable and safer for everyone.
Making cities more walkable benefits all stakeholders. Businesses see more pedestrian traffic, injury and fatality numbers are reduced, and streets become safer for both drivers and pedestrians alike. Yet, what are the characteristics of a “walkable” street?
According to the University of Memphis, there are several ways that streets can be made safer for pedestrians. Here are five best practices for safer roads:
- Proper speed limits. According to the University of Memphis, a pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour has a 95% chance of living. When vehicles are traveling at 30 miles per hour, only 55% of pedestrians survive. New York City recently reduced speeds across the city to 25 miles per hour in an effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Boise and Meridian, Idaho can place similar limitations on streets used most frequently by pedestrians.
- Presence of sidewalks. Studies have revealed that individuals are twice as likely to be struck on a road without a sidewalk than a road with a sidewalk. Constructing sidewalks on roads used by pedestrians can cut injuries and fatalities in half.
- Making changes to roads to increase drivers’ awareness of pedestrians can also reduce accidents. Building crosswalks, setting up pedestrian crossing signals, and putting up signs for drivers are all steps Meridian and Boise can take to decrease accidents.
- Managing access. Cities can limit vehicle access to certain roads known to have high pedestrian traffic. For instance, trucks can be restricted to areas where there are fewer pedestrians, or trucks can be restricted to traveling on city roads only at hours where there are fewer pedestrians present.
- Take community context into account. Cities need to research how streets are being used and address concerns for all users. If a street is used by cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers, there should be use areas for each and signals to ensure everyone’s safety.
Pedestrian safety is a team effort that involves the input of communities, municipalities, pedestrians, and drivers. Drivers should be aware of areas in their communities where there are likely to be pedestrians and they should adjust their driving accordingly. Likewise, pedestrians need to be aware that drivers may not always see them when they are crossing the street. The Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen supports safe driving and safe community projects. Our firm of personal injury attorneys works closely with families who have been impacted by car accidents.