Safe crossings at bus stops vital
Imagine standing on a narrow strip of raised concrete on a busy 10-lane road waiting for a gap in traffic. For most of us, this may seem like a nightmare. But for many people who use transit in the Atlanta region, this is a frightening reality.
Walking to transit can be deadly
People who walk to public transit are among the most vulnerable pedestrians in the Atlanta region. Research by the Atlanta Regional Commission found that over 20 percent of pedestrian crashes in metro Atlanta occur within 100 feet of a transit station or bus stop. And nearly half occurred within 300 feet. This is unacceptable.
Nearly three-fourths of transit trips in the Atlanta region begin with walking trips. For transit to be successful, people need more than buses. They also need safe routes to bus stops.
Many people in the Atlanta region live and travel in places built for high-speed automobiles. We need to adapt to the new reality.
MARTA’s new Route 196 traverses Riverdale Road, Jonesboro Road and Tara Boulevard. A recent analysis of federal figures by Smart Growth America identified these as Clayton County’s most dangerous places to walk. Over 40 people were killed while walking on these roads during the past decade.
With the introduction of bus service, increased investment in safe crossings is one of Clayton County’s greatest needs.
Rights and responsibilities
Following crashes, some people blame the victim. Their solution: “cross at crosswalks only.” Easier said than done. On many roads, crosswalks are often over a half mile apart. No one will walk that far just to get across the street.
People who walk have a right to cross roads safely. And transportation professionals have a responsibility to install safe crossings. This is especially important on public transit corridors.
Show people who walk to transit the money!
It took billions of dollars and a lot of time to develop a region as auto-centric as ours. And it will take time and money to make the region one where we can cross the street conveniently and safely.
Issues we hear about frequently – technical expertise and cost – are not the real barriers to progress. Plenty of quality engineers know how to create safe crossings and “right-sized roads in urban and suburban areas. Transportation agencies in metro Atlanta spend millions each year. The real issue is how they use it.
Long-awaited fixes to the notoriously brutal Buford Highway are now under construction. Much more is needed—and much more is possible. The Georgia Department of Transportation received $227 million in federal transportation dollars designated for traffic safety from 2009 – 2013. An analysis of federal figures by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership found, however, that GDOT spent little of that money to fix dangerous conditions for people on foot.
Momentum is strong, but this is just a start.
With your support, the Safe Routes to Transit Initiative has made safe crossings at transit stops a local, regional and state priority.
A few examples:
- State and local transportation agencies partner with us to implement road safety audits that identify safety needs and solutions on transit corridors
- Local and state safety plans and design guidelines incorporated recommendations from the Safe Routes to Transit: Toolkits for Safe Crossings in Metro Atlanta we published last year
- People who walk to transit now have a voice in transportation planning
- Transportation agencies are installing pedestrian refuge islands, Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons, Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons and other safe crossing tools
Changes won’t happen overnight. We’re working with MARTA, neighborhood activists, and other stakeholders to identify dangerous locations and recommend solutions. City, county and state agencies have the authority and responsibility to implement safety improvements.
We can, should and must work together and get the job done. Please support our efforts to make this happen.