Asheville recently earned the dubious distinction of being, per capita, the most dangerous city in the state for people on foot. Cyclists don’t fare much better, though there is evidence to suggest that element might improve the more cyclists are on the street.
Our Asheville car accident attorneys understand that between 2008 and 2012, the average number of annual vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents was 8.1 per 10,000 people. That is by far the highest of any of the 10 largest metro areas in the state, according to a recent report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Figures aren’t yet available for the 2013 calendar year, but a report from the Asheville Citizen-Times indicates we’ll likely see the uptick continue, given a number of serious crashes reported by the paper last year and so far in 2014.
City officials believe several issues may be at play. The first has to do with Asheville’s status as a prime tourist destination. That means a lot of people are traversing neighborhoods on foot, and they aren’t familiar with the urban landscape. And the landscape itself contributes to problems as well, given the area’s mountainous terrain. The roads are curvy, hilly and a lot of roads are far narrower than they should be ideally.
City council members recently approved the formation of the city’s first “Multimodal Transportation Commission,” which will be responsible for researching ways local roads can be made safer for all users – not just motor vehicle drivers.
Among efforts made so far to tackle the issue: Stepped-up police enforcement, sidewalk improvements and public awareness campaigns. Still, problems persist.
Areas that tend to see the highest volume of pedestrian and bicycle crashes are the city’s main thoroughfares. Those include Long Shoals Road, Haywood Road, Tunnel Road and Hendersonville Road.
Although this city had the highest number of per capita crashes, there were larger cities that had a greater number of accidents overall. For example, Charlotte city officials reported an average of 375 pedestrian accidents over the five-year period, compared to Asheville, which reported an average of 68. However, Charlotte’s per capita crash rate during that time was 5.1 per 10,000 people, compared to Asheville’s 8.1.
What’s especially troubling, however, is that the number of pedestrian crashes in Asheville nearly doubled during the study period. In 2008, traffic officials tallied a total of 48. In 2012, that figure climbed to 93. The number of fatalities jumped from 1 in 2008 to 4 in 2012. In total during that time, 307 were injured and 12 people killed. Those figures do not include vehicle-versus-bicycle accidents or injuries.
A recent study by the University of Colorado suggests the more bicycle traffic there is, the safer cyclists will be. Researchers studied the college town of Boulder, and found that when 200 or more cyclists traversed a given intersection during the day, accidents at that intersection plummeted, in some cases by two-thirds. Researchers hypothesize that motorists who get used to seeing bicyclists routinely make the extra effort to double-check their blind spots and look for them at intersections.
The same might be true of pedestrian traffic as well, though it’s incumbent on cyclists and those traveling by foot to practice caution as well. This involves looking for cars in all directions, using caution to cross multiple lanes of traffic and at night wearing reflective clothing and walking in well-lit areas.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Bicyclist safety performance functions for a U.S. City, May 31, 2014, Department of Engineering, University of Colorado, Denver
Asheville tops NC in per capita pedestrian accidents, May 29, 2014, By Sabian Warren, Asheville Citizen-Times
More Blog Entries:
Inman v. Boykin – Timely Filing of Car Accident Lawsuit Critical, Aug. 15, 2014, Asheville Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog