Civility could help stop pedestrian fatals

BALTIMORE - You can think of it as sort of a potentially deadly ballet.

Folks walking out into the busy street; weaving through cars just to get to the other side of the road.

The cross walk is right there; just steps away.

But the cars just buzz through and the pedestrians try to be watchful.

It's a scene that's repeated all throughout the city.

From Lexington market to the campus of Johns Hopkins, this game of constant chicken has led to some deadly results.

 "We did a lot of focus groups here in Baltimore and the theme we kept hearing over and over again is that we to increase the civility and respect for pedestrians and drivers that drivers need to pay attention to the laws and pedestrians need to pay attention to the environment that they're in."

Andrea Gielen is director of the Hopkins center for Injury Research and Policy.

She says research shows that people are just rude and there is a need to change the culture here when it comes to use of the roadways.

 "We see a lot of time people will be crossing against the light or not in the crosswalk we see lots of time where cares are making a left turn without yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalks so what people told us is we need to change the culture here to make it more friendly for people to be out and about walking." Gielen says.

There is also a need to improve the area where pedestrians walk.

Back on November 27th, a 75 year old man was killed here on Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard near Edgewood Drive.

There are sidewalks on one side of the road, but not on the other.

A large chunk of road has no sidewalks at all.

Not an atmosphere that is friendly to walkers or people riding on a bicycle.

Gielen says that cities and counties can do things that will make it friendlier to walkers and drivers a lot.

 "Ask for what kinds of environments would be better do we have enough cross walks are they well marked do we have traffic calming devices where we can have them things like that that can be done without completely changing everything those are relatively straight forward fixes that we know how to do." Gielen says       

Hopkins research also shows that distraction is a contributing factor in these situations.

Pedestrians listening to music or using phones can't hear cars coming.

The same goes with drivers who take their eyes off the road to twiddle with their phone or some feature inside their car.

For more information about Hopkins research into creating more pedestrian friendly environments you can see their research at www.Centerforactivedesign.org/promotingsafety

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