Traffic

Fewer pedestrians have died on Charlotte streets this year. Can we avoid a new record?

Residents talk about the deadly dangers of crossing West Boulevard

Mary Fryar shares how her daughter, Ty’Asia Young, 11, had been trying to cross West Boulevard after a trip to a convenience store. The boulevard has four lanes, and there is no “island” separating traffic to give pedestrians safety.
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Mary Fryar shares how her daughter, Ty’Asia Young, 11, had been trying to cross West Boulevard after a trip to a convenience store. The boulevard has four lanes, and there is no “island” separating traffic to give pedestrians safety.

Pedestrians are dying in fewer numbers on Charlotte’s streets so far this year after a record 28 were hit and killed by motor vehicles in 2018, police reports show.

Eleven pedestrians have died in the first half of the year, police reports show.

While the fatality rate so far is lower than that of the past two years — 27 pedestrians died in 2017, also a record — it’s to be seen whether it holds up through the year. Pedestrians have died in clusters this year: four in the first 12 days of January, three in three weeks of June.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police made no comment on the reports.

A 2018 Observer analysis of 2016 data found that 41% of the city’s accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles, including those that were nonfatal, occurred in mostly low-income neighborhoods east, north and west of uptown. Only 19% took place in affluent areas south of uptown.

One reason, the article said, is that while sidewalk construction appeared to be evenly spread across Charlotte, the city often builds street crosswalks where citizens request them. Those requests most often come from wealthier neighborhoods.

Of the 11 fatalities through June, seven of the collisions happened at 11 p.m. or later at night. Two victims were in their 70s, and two were believed to have been drinking. Six were struck as they tried to cross streets, but accident reports don’t say whether they were in crosswalks.

Charlotte City Council tried to make sidewalks safer for pedestrians early last year by closing loopholes that allowed developers to avoid widening narrow sidewalks, and moving them farther from the street, when they redevelop sites.

Last November, council approved new traffic-calming measures intended to make city streets safer. The measures made it easier to lower speed limits to 25 mph on neighborhood streets and simplified the process to request stop signs and speed humps.

The Charlotte Department of Transportation said it doesn’t yet have enough data to say whether the traffic-calming measures have reduced pedestrian deaths.

People walking and biking are involved in less than 3% of all crashes in Charlotte, but account for nearly 44% of all traffic deaths, the city reported of 2017 crash data.

Bruce Henderson writes about transportation, emerging issues and interesting people for The Charlotte Observer. His reporting background is in covering energy, environment and state news.
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