Pedestrian accidents have been rising in recent years, even as crash rates for other types of accidents have declined. Many of these pedestrian accidents happen because drivers are careless or do not prioritize walker safety.
While both drivers and pedestrians need to avoid high-risk behaviors, there are additional steps which can be taken to make roads safer for pedestrians. If more cities begin to prioritize pedestrian safety and design roadways and walking areas with the needs of pedestrians in mind, it could profoundly impact the rising tide of pedestrian crashes.
The good news is, Cleveland is taking steps in the right direction. Architect News recently reported on the newly designed Cleveland Public Square, which underwent major renovations and now provides a welcoming and safe space for pedestrians.
Prioritizing Pedestrian Friendly Spaces to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Administration, "Almost every transportation improvement is an opportunity to enhance the safety and convenience of walking and bicycling. Bicycle and pedestrian needs must be given ‘due consideration’ under Federal surface transportation law (23 U.S.C. 217(g)(1))."
Clearly this advice was taken to heart when the new Cleveland Public Square was designed. The construction of this space turned former roadways into a pedestrian corridor, so people are able to walk around freely without risk. The new construction also created a six acre park that provides opportunities for public activities and has helped to prompt both residential and commercial projects in Cleveland City Center.
During construction, Ontario Street was permanently closed between South Roadway and Rockwell Avenue. Superior Avenue is now used exclusively for transit. Areas which were formerly paved have been converted to green lawns to provide more recreational area for the park. A fountain was added which will be converted into an ice rink over the course of the winter. Extensive walkways and vegetation were also added throughout the entire area.
Creating spaces like this not only provides a safe place for people who like walking, it helps to make the entire city of Cleveland a better and more friendly place for pedestrians. Commuting on foot or via bicycle has become increasingly popular. Walking or riding as opposed to driving provides health benefits for individuals and environmental benefits for the entire community. More locations throughout the city should be designed to provide walking space, and more city streets should be retrofitted to take the needs of bicycle riders and walkers into account. Though much more still needs to be done, progress is being made in terms of taking the needs of pedestrians more seriously.