As we settle into summer, many adults find themselves recalling the summers of their youths and comparing them to summer 2014. Today's children spend more time indoors, a trend that is partly a sign of plugged-in lives, partly due to parenting trends, and partly a result of very real changes in safety. Sidewalk construction is one way to prevent pedestrian deaths and improve community safety overall, making the outdoors more accessible for our children.
Our Panama City pedestrian accident law firm advocates for injury victims and grieving families, but we are first and foremost members of this community. We will always place prevention first, and we support changes that would make it safer for our region's children to enjoy a safe outdoor environment.
According to WMBB, the tragic death of a pedestrian has given renewed vigor to demands for safer streets in Walton County. On Thursday night, just before dark, a 30-year-old man was walking on Country Road 393 in Santa Rosa Beach when a car hit him from behind, killing him. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating and charges against the car's driver are pending.
Notably, while CR393 extends from U.S. 98 to Scenic Highway 30A, the sidewalk does not. Residents are concerned by the lack of pedestrian space, noting they see people walking and biking on the side of the road. Thursday's tragedy was certainly not the first, although some say they are surprised there haven't been more accidents on the stretch.
Both residents and visitors have called for a sidewalk that would run along 393 from 30A to U.S. 98. One visitor interviewed by WMBB suggested the move would help attract more families, noting she'd feel safer with her children if the area had sidewalks. A member of the Walton County Sherriff's Office said her own neighborhood and the area where she walks both had sidewalks and says she wouldn't feel safe on a street without them. Responsibility for sidewalk construction would fall to Walton County, and officials said the County doesn't plan to build them anytime soon.
The National Complete Streets Coalition, a group that includes the National Association of Realtors, AARP, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials, notes that pedestrian crashes occur twice as often in places without sidewalks, and roadways that have sidewalks on both sides see the fewest crashes. Although the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities has been on the decline for decades, experts believe this is partly attributable to an overall decline in the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the road.
These facts point to a few of the motivations behind the call for "complete streets" in communities of all sizes. Generally speaking, "complete streets" are roads designed and operated with the safety of all users in mind, including transit users, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. This is in contrast to streets that only serve the needs of drivers.
Sidewalks are one element of complete streets shown to improve pedestrian safety. In addition to improving safety, complete streets improve air quality, benefit public health by encouraging walking and biking, ease road congestion, and make economic sense by connecting homes, schools, businesses, parks, and other elements of the community.
We support the development of streets that keep the safety of all travelers, and travelers of all ages, in mind. This in no way changes the fact that we also believe in holding people accountable for their own actions and their own negligence. If you or a member of your family was injured in a pedestrian collision caused by someone else's negligent or wrongful acts, Attorney Pittman can help. As a Northwest Florida pedestrian injury lawyer, he can help you recover compensation from those at fault. Remember that injury suits not only help the victims cope with the costs of their injury, they also serve as a powerful reminder that our community values pedestrian safety and will not tolerate behavior that puts pedestrians at risk.