Pedestrian Deaths Shed Light on the Need for Better Pedestrian Infrastructure
In less than one week, two pedestrians were struck and killed on City streets in Pittsburgh. On January 18, Barbara Como, 20, a Pitt student was struck and killed by a driver of a Port Authority bus in Oakland. The driver is now suspended pending the investigation.
Five days later on January 24, a driver struck and killed Richard Faessel in a hit-and-run crash on Chateau St in the Northside. The driver fled the scene, leaving the victim alone, only to be found by another passing motorist. Police are searching for a gray or gunmetal gray sedan with tinted windows.
Ms. Como was struck at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and DeSoto Street which is on a busy five lane street, with slip lanes for turning vehicles. The crash in Manchester occurred on Chateau Street near Columbus Avenue, another treacherous three lane street, also with slip lanes. Both of these corridors similarly act as highways funneling fast moving traffic through a neighborhood. These are also predominantly pedestrian neighborhoods that rely on the streets and their designs to keep them safe while walking to destinations.
Street design can save lives
Traffic crashes are fixable problems, caused by dangerous streets and unsafe drivers. They are not accidents. In the past decade, the number of people struck and killed while walking increased by 35%. According to our Report on Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety, a pedestrian is hit every 34 hours in Pittsburgh, and comprise about a third of traffic related fatalities.
The design of a street greatly impacts the behavior of a driver and other road users. Better crosswalks, lower speed limits, traffic calming speed humps, longer pedestrian crossing times, and pedestrian refuge islands will go a long way in saving the lives of Pittsburgh’s pedestrians, the most vulnerable users on our roadways.
The risk of getting killed by a vehicle goes up with every increased mile per hour and surviving a crash almost vanishes at speeds over 35mph.
Our solutions remain the same: slow down cars, prioritize pedestrians, value safety over the flow of vehicles, and work towards zero traffic deaths.
What is the City doing?
According to the American Community Survey (ACS) 25% of Pittsburgh households don’t have access to a car. The streets need to be designed for everyone.
Manchester – The Manchester-Chateau Neighborhood Plan, published last year, states a commitment to improving pedestrian safety in the area, “Chateau Street: The street currently functions as a highway on-ramp, with little way to slow down traffic, making crossing Chateau Street from Manchester to Chateau unsafe. Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers feel unsafe on this street.” Later this year the City plans to install a pedestrian beacon in addition to a road diet on Chateau Street.
Oakland – Currently, Oakland is in the middle of working with three large scale plans: The Oakland Neighborhood Plan, The University of Pittsburgh’s Institutional Master Plan, and The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Plan. Each plan has major focuses on pedestrian infrastructure improvements, safety, and corridor improvements for the streets, neighborhoods, and residents. DeSoto Street, however, is a known dangerous and confusing intersection for pedestrians.