Last year, Transportation for America named the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area as the 10th deadliest area for pedestrians in the country. A new report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that these dangerous conditions are increasing, because of the lack of sufficient crosswalks for pedestrians. Further, according to the report, pedestrians may be at a greater danger in the suburban metro Atlanta area where motorists may not expect pedestrians and where there are few strategically placed crosswalks, than on city streets.
This month, a mother who lost a child in a pedestrian accident will face trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. In 2008, Raquel Nelson was walking with her four children outside the crosswalk in Cobb County, when one of the children was struck and killed by a motorist. The loss of a child was a tragedy too much for a mother’s heart to bear, but there was more cruelty in store for Nelson. She was immediately charged, and found that public opinion was strongly against her. No one found it fit to pursue the fact that there were few crosswalks at the area where the accident took place.
Last month, a similar accident killed a four-year-old boy. The mother had been crossing the street outside the crosswalk with the boy and her other children, when he was killed by a motorist. The nearest crosswalk was at least 3/10th of a mile in the either direction. It was late, and the family was in a hurry to get into a bus that had just stopped at a bus stop on the other side of the street.
The area around a bus stop seems to be the most dangerous for pedestrians in Atlanta. According to a study by the Atlanta Regional Commission, about 25% of pedestrian accidents in the metro Atlanta region occur within 100 feet of a bus stop. Close to 50% of pedestrian accidents occur within 300 feet of a bus stop. There are few crosswalks where many of these bus stops are located, and pedestrians often have no other choice, but to cross outside a crosswalk.
Not everybody’s willing to walk a mile to get to a crosswalk. That is something that Atlanta authorities must understand, instead of blaming victims and their families whenever there are accidents.