This week we had another local tragedy involving a pedestrian on a STROAD. We have a national epidemic of pedestrian deaths in this nation. And unfortunately Pennsylvania is heading further backwards.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association Pennsylvania had the second highest increase in pedestrian deaths from 2013-2014:
Here in the Lehigh Valley a woman lost her life walking on the shoulder of Airport Rd. when she was hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver will be punished as he should be. But the local officials, planners and engineers who designed and allowed a dangerous STROAD that mixes restaurants, movie theaters, pubs and retail (things people want to and should be able to walk to) with zero pedestrian accommodations will not.
This death like most could have been prevented through better policy, design and practice. There was a crosswalk near this accident because it’s mandated by the state. But like most STROADS there are no sidewalks or any facilities at all to get people from places of business safely to the crosswalk. In fact, the whole environment was built to be completely abrasive and dangerous for anyone not inside a metal cage. So, people react naturally and they walk on the dangerous shoulder.
More than half of all pedestrian fatalities occur on arterials, and over 60 percent of these tragedies occur on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or higher. These are the STROADS. Here in Lower Macungie Brookside Rd., Lower Macungie Rd., the “bypass” and Hamilton Boulevard are all STROADS. Locally, along these STROADS we have built a library, pool, parks and schools. We’ve zoned for places of business including daycares, restaurants and retail. Naturally, people want to be able to and should be able to walk to these destinations. If we continue to plan to put commercial uses on these roads, we need to expect people will walk and bike on them and design accordingly.
Pedestrian scale road geometry
Appropriate design speed that correlates with appropriate posted speed
Context sensitivity: Neighborhood commercial form, street trees, etc.