Asheville residents who have ever walked in our city know the dangers of being a pedestrian in a growing region. Some of the most pedestrian-heavy areas in Asheville are also the most dangerous for people walking or bicycling. This phenomenon is not specific to Asheville; dozens of growing cities across the country are experiencing similar growing pains that are hazardous or even deadly to pedestrians. The need for more pedestrian-friendly city planning is evident here and in other cities with rising populations.
Asheville’s Street Design
A recent study by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association noted a dramatic rise in the number of pedestrian deaths from 2015 to 2016. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016. Last year’s increase reflects a trend of rising numbers of pedestrian deaths overall; pedestrian fatalities also rose from 2014 to 2015.
The GHSA report attributes the rise of fatalities among pedestrians to two factors. The first is Americans’ increased use of cars. The second is the increased use of smartphones, both among drivers and pedestrians.
This conclusion is shortsighted, according to an article from Smart Growth America , an organization dedicated to ensuring safer city planning in cities like Asheville that are becoming more populated. While cell phone distractions are common causes of traffic accidents, an analysis of pedestrian accidents by location shows that the same streets and intersections are involved in many of these incidents. Every city has streets that have reputations for being particularly dangerous to pedestrians. Yet the report by the GHSA makes no mention of poorly-designed streets and their effect on growing cities’ rates of pedestrian accidents.Asheville accident “heat map” shows clusters of pedestrian fatalities between 2015-2014
NC’s Pedestrian Danger Index Ranking
Smart Growth America conducted its own study that discussed what the report calls the “Pedestrian Danger Index”, a measure of the relationship between the numbers of pedestrians and the numbers of pedestrian fatalities. With 2 pedestrian deaths per 113,000 people, North Carolina ranks number 11 in Pedestrian Danger Index.
This alarming statistic probably comes as no surprise to longtime residents of North Carolina, particularly those in cities. Our state’s population continues to grow, especially in urban areas, and so does the number of people walking and biking as an alternative to driving.
Asheville has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in North Carolina, according to a NC DOT report. Asheville’s tourism industry, confusing roads, lack of crosswalks, and number of pedestrians all create a nexus of dangerous conditions for pedestrians.
How to get help after a pedestrian accident
Pedestrian accidents are often devastating, causing head, neck, and spinal injuries, broken bones and other severe injuries. The medical bills arising from these accidents can bankrupt households because of lost wages and out-of-pocket costs. To make matters worse, many medical providers will not treat accident victims because they cannot pay for treatment without an insurance settlement, which is usually negotiated after treatment is completed.
Many pedestrian accident victims only find relief after they contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Personal injury claims involving accidents in areas with no crosswalks or other poor street design can be difficult for victims to handle on their own, especially if an insurance company denies a claim based on contributory negligence. Contact our Asheville personal injury firm today to talk to an attorney about your case. Our consultations are always free.
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