2011 was not a good year for the pedestrian in Franklin County, with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in recent history (23). And 2012 has already seen three such fatalities in various parts of the city.
The question, then, is why? What is causing this spike in the number of pedestrian deaths of late? While location does not appear to be an issue, time of day certainly does. Of the 13 deaths from 2011 examined thus far, 10 of them have been at night with the victim not using a crosswalk and dressed in dark clothing. So though it's a horrible tragedy, logic dictates that more people are taking unnecessary risks just to walk across the street. And the police are taking the predictable route of advising people to wear brighter clothing at night.
But if I was to advise the city in researching these accidents and looking for commonalities, here's what I'd like to suggest: instead of looking at locations in the city, look at the following things for each accident:
- the speed limit at the locations of the fatalities;
- how close a crosswalk was to each location;
- how close to the location was the nearest bus stop.
I've long said (though possibly not here) that the city is doing its citizens an injustice by not having a crosswalk at the location of every bus stop. For example, one of the bus routes I take regularly is on Indianola Avenue going south to downtown. On the days that I have to get off on Indianola instead of on Hudson (days I don't have to pick up my son), it's always an issue to try to get across Indianola without walking entirely out of my way to do so. To get to a crosswalk is at least a quarter mile either north to Indianola and Weber Road or south to Indianola and Arcadia. And Indianola isn't even as much an issue as roads like Morse, Henderson, Bethel, Dublin-Granville, etc. (due to speed and road width).
I'm in good shape, so it's not generally a problem for me to hustle across Indianola. What about someone who's not possessing full mobility and needs to get across - the handicapped or elderly, example? It's a bad situation and not just in my location - many people complain about this very problem all over the city.
And with more people taking COTA for transportation each day for economic or other reasons and the rate continuing to rise, the problem is only getting worse, I think.
How about you? What are your thoughts about why the rate of pedestrian fatalities is rising?
People, not speed.