Pedestrians, Bikers at Risk in Charlotte

by Stern Dixon, director of marketing

Traffic accidents involving pedestrians and bicylclists have risen in Charlotte in recent years despite a continued decrease in such accidents nationally. Thirteen people died in pedestrian and bike collisions with autos since the beginning of the year and 24 people died in total from similar accidents in 2011.

Observers blame both the motorists and the unmotored for the accidents, but tend to agree that the worst accidents are clustered in areas where the most pedestrians are. Uptown Charlotte ranks highest in pedestrian/motorist crashes. The other bad areas tend to be where lower-income residences and nearby shopping and attractions are separated by busy roads.

The Charlotte Observer compiled a list of the worst areas of the city for pedestrians and cyclists and ranks these among the worst.

  1. East Arrowood Rd. near Nations Ford Rd.
  2. West Blvd. near Remount Rd.
  3. Beatties Ford Rd. near Oaklawn Ave.
  4. Beatties Ford Rd. near LaSalle St.
  5. North Tryon St. beyond the Brookshire Freeway
  6. North Tryon St. near University City Blvd.
  7. The Plaza at Matheson Ave.
  8. Central Ave. near Eastway Blvd.
  9. Central Ave. near N. Sharon Amity Rd.
  10. East Blvd. near Scott Ave.
  11. Elizabeth Ave. near 4thSt.
  12. Uptown Charlotte

The only thing we see in common with all of these locations is that these are the areas that more people are walking and biking. These aren’t the worst places for walking in biking in Charlotte. There are many more less pedestrian-friendly streets and intersections. Charlotte has long had a pedestrian-averse reputation – just try biking or walking into uptown from Providence Road/3rd Street on the south side, from Tryon Street on the east or from 5thStreet on the north. Traffic lanes are much too narrow to accommodate bikers and sidewalks can be narrow and inches from the traffic.

There isn’t one answer to making the Queen City safer for pedestrians and cyclists. But some of the answers include widening roads, adding bike Lanes, building pedestrian and bike bridges and tunnels across major thoroughfares, adding new sidewalks and putting green strips between the roadway and the sidewalks that exist. Lastly, but probably most important is cracking down on distracted driving. No walker or cyclist is safe when a driver is texting behind the wheel.

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