9 Investigates Charlotte pedestrian deaths

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A new study says the Charlotte area is one of the most dangerous in the United States for pedestrians.

A group of road planners, the National Complete Streets Coalition, released the report, listing Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord tenth worst in the country.

One of the report's authors, David Goldberg, told Action 9 that planners were only thinking about ways to move traffic quickly, not how to encourage walking when many southern cities like Charlotte boomed decades ago.

Now, roads tend to be easier to drive fast, there are fewer crosswalks and sidewalks and there's more space between intersections so pedestrians tend to cross mid-block often. 

"In places where you don't have crossings that are there for people -- then they'll dash across a highway -- and they'll run to the median or run to the turn lane in the middle and then wait for traffic -- and that's hard for everybody," he said. 

His group urges better road design nationwide.

It puts a lot of the responsibility on the U.S. Department of Transportation because it funds so many of the nation's roads.

Jeffrey Poole's uncle, 53-year-old Johnny King, died walking across a street in Gastonia in April. 

"Just miss him a lot,” Poole said. “He was my 9-year-old son's best friend."

Scott Curry works for Charlotte Department of Transportation.

He's the pedestrian program manager.

The position is dedicated to focus on pedestrians.
 
"We know we have a lot of challenged pedestrian environments,” Curry said. “We've been working hard to address that. I think it's fair criticism and we understand the development legacy that we have been working hard to overcome some of those mistakes."

CDOT is retrofitting many of those roads built decades ago and redoing them to accommodate pedestrians better. 

One example is East Boulevard in Dilworth.

Within the last five years, crews added crosswalks, sidewalks and islands, which make the crossing distance shorter. 

As for new roads, CDOT has its own Urban Street Design Guideline -- nearly 300 pages of rules for making Charlotte roads safer.

Charlotte voters have a say in all of this soon.

They'll see a referendum on November's ballot. The money would pay for sidewalk projects.
 
The city has 2,000 miles of road without any sidewalks. Building just 1 mile of walkway can cost more than $1 million. That's $2 billion to cover the 2,000 miles of roads. 

"We know we have a lot of challenged-pedestrian environment,” Curry said. “We've been working hard to address that. I think it's fair criticism and we understand the development legacy that we have been working hard to overcome some of those mistakes. Curry said.

CDOT is retrofitting many of those roads built decades ago and redoing them to accommodate pedestrians better. 

 One example is East Boulevard in Dilworth. 

 Within the last five years, crews added crosswalks, sidewalks and islands, which make the crossing distance shorter. 

 As for new roads, CDOT has its own Urban Street Design Guideline -- nearly 300 pages of rules for making Charlotte roads safer.

 Charlotte voters have a say in all of this soon. 

 They'll see a referendum on November's ballot. 

 The money would pay for sidewalk projects.

 The city has 2,000 miles of road without any sidewalks. Building just one mile of walkway can cost more than $1 million. That's $2 billion to cover the 2,000 miles of roads.