In another one of Blueprint America‘s excellent pieces, correspondent John Larson takes a look at Buford Highway in suburban Atlanta, Georgia where pedestrians risk their lives just to cross the street.
“Sometimes I am scared, but I have to do [it],” says resident Nimia Larcia, who daily crosses Buford on her way to work.
That Buford, one of Georgia’s most dangerous roads, was built without considering the needs of anyone outside a private automobile is typical. “Buford Highway is just a poster child for this issue. There are tons of roadways out there just like this,” reports Michael Orta, of the Atlanta-area non-profit PEDS.
Bus stops along Buford are often poles in the dirt, inches from the roadway. At one stop, folks wait up the hill on some rocks – there is no other place for them to sit. Because there are no sidewalks, people have trampled trails in the dirt and dust. In some places, crosswalks are a mile apart.
Despite the fact that every trip on public transportation will require crossing the street at least once, these bus stops are so far from safe, marked crossings that people must play Frogger, trying finding gaps in 7 lanes of speeding traffic. One in four accidents on Buford are a result of simply trying to get to and from the bus stops.
Like many of America’s streets, especially those in more suburban communities, Buford was designed only for cars. But as our suburbs become home to more and more low-income families and individuals who can’t afford cars, those streets become lethal to people simply walking in their communities. And, as America ages, millions of older adults living in auto-centric communities may be left with few safe mobility options and at risk of isolation.
Though the Georgia Department of Transportation acknowledges Buford as hazardous to pedestrians and has plans to make it better, Larson reports “there are no overnight fixes for pedestrians.”
That is why it is so important for every transportation project, from the very start, to consider the needs of all users – people of all ages and abilities on foot, on bike, in public transportation, and in cars. That is why we need Complete Streets policies.