Pedestrians and motor vehicles are rarely a good combination. When pedestrians use the same road space as motor vehicles, everyone is at risk. Pedestrians don't stand a chance in a collision with a car or other vehicle. Likewise, drivers may swerve to avoid pedestrians and end up involved in a single or multi-vehicle accident. As a Panama City pedestrian injury lawyer, Attorney Pittman supports efforts to protect pedestrians, noting that such attempts also protect motorists and can improve the overall health of our communities. Sidewalks are a key part of any pedestrian safety plan.
As reported by WJHG Channel 7 News, officials in Panama City are planning to construct new sidewalks in the city's North Community redevelopment area. City commissioners recently approved a budget for the sidewalk project. The plans include adding sidewalks to Louisiana Avenue, a road that has never had sidewalks before now. However, the $500,000 price tag is not the only topic of community debate, and residents have expressed mixed opinions on the project. Plans call for installation to begin by 2015.
While many residents are enthusiastic about the sidewalk construction, the Community Redevelopment Agency ("CRA") Manager Tori Shamplain cited drainage issues as the primary deterrent to constructing the Louisiana Avenue walkways. Unleveled areas created by heavy rains tend to flood, with residents reporting ditches prevent them from travelling and accessing parts of their property. Shamplain notes that the city does plan to address and repair drainage issues before building sidewalks. She also says the sidewalk construction will be accompanied by curbs and gutters that will permit drainage.
Other residents cite a different concern – crime. They say that the sidewalks could provide a way for criminals to access their neighborhoods. Such concerns have focused in on the Foxwood low income housing development. The residents, according to Shamplain, fear that "sidewalks will make it easier for those that are not good neighbors to trash our yards."
The Federal Highway Association ("FHWA") sidewalk safety webpage says that providing walkways that are separate from traffic lanes could prevent up to 88% of the category of pedestrian accidents called "walking along the roadway crashes." This self-explanatory group accounts for about 8% of pedestrian deaths. Sidewalks have also been shown to reduce other types of pedestrian accidents, and roads with no sidewalk are more than twice as likely to experience pedestrian collisions as roads that have sidewalks running along both sides of the road.
Pedestrian safety is only one of the many benefits associated with sidewalks. The FHWA says these benefits include increasing the number of walking trips, providing more transportation options for those without cars (or who cannot afford car travel) and building a healthier community. The agency cites research showing that people engage in recreational walking when provided with the necessary facilities, and that walking allows individuals to fill recommended physical activity goals.
In turn, exercise improves both physical and mental health. Although not mentioned on the page, improved health also saves money at both the individual and community level. Another FHWA page specifically addresses the issue of sidewalks and crime, noting that increased pedestrian activity actually reduces crime since it means more "eyes on the street."
We support efforts to make our region safer for both pedestrians and drivers. We also support those injured in pedestrian crashes by serving as a Panama City law firm for injured pedestrians. While we are saddened to hear of such tragedies, our firm also helps families bring wrongful death claims when driver negligence leads to a pedestrian death. Call or email us to arrange a no-cost consultation with Attorney Pittman, a lawyer with decades of experience representing the injured in Florida's civil courts.