Saturday, January 3, 2015

Injustice at the Intersection


Featured on Dissent -- On April 10, 2010, four-year-old A.J. Newman was killed just steps from his home. Along with his mother and two sisters, he was trying to get back to his apartment building from a bus stop on the far side of a five-lane highway. As they waited on a narrow concrete median, A.J. broke loose from Raquel Nelson’s hand, following the lead of his older sister, who took advantage of a short break in traffic to dash across the road. A drunk driver struck him dead before his mother’s eyes.

Raquel Nelson’s troubles didn’t end there. In the wake of her son’s death, she was charged with vehicular homicide because, with three young children and an armful of groceries, she chose not to walk a third of a mile to the nearest marked crosswalk. A jury whose members never ride local buses found Nelson guilty of a crime whose true perpetrators were poverty and traffic engineering. She nearly went to jail, but after a national outcry, the judge reversed her conviction. [Cont ...]

America's Streets Are Safer for Drivers, But Not for Pedestrians

From CityLab -- The continued decline in traffic fatalities is one of the brightest trends in public health these days, and according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it continued in 2013, with the overall number of people killed on roads in the United States down 3.1 percent over 2012 numbers. Far too many people still died on the nation’s streets and highways -- 32,719, to be precise. But that number represents a remarkable 25 percent decrease in traffic deaths since 2004.

For people outside of cars rather than inside them, however, the news is less reassuring: “non-occupant fatalities” have gone from 14 percent of the total number of deaths to 17 percent over a 10-year period. The raw number of pedestrians killed by drivers did go down down between 2012 and 2013, but by only 1.7 percent, to 4,735. And the longer-term trend is not positive. In fact, pedestrian fatalities in 2013 were 15 percent higher than they were in 2009 [Full article ...]

The standard cross-road is nearing extinction in suburban Delaware, replaced by configurations like the above. Instead of right turns in the traditional sense, radius turns keep motor traffic moving as quickly as possible through intersections. This comes at the expense of bicycle and pedestrian safety, since bike lanes seldom fit and the beginning and end of the crosswalk isn't even signalized. Induced to drive faster, motorists seldom yield, and usually just barrel on through even when pedestrians are present. Whether directly related or not, Delaware recently tied its 2014 per-capita record for pedestrian fatalities - enough for 1st place even ahead of Florida one year ago.

See also:

Why crosswalks are so dangerous in Delaware
Delaware pedestrian fatalities rise 6.4% from last year
Trying to rank Delaware for Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities
In Delaware, yielding to pedestrians is a joke
Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

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