When you think of city traffic, it’s likely you envision not just bumper-to-bumper vehicles, but also countless folks on foot. The bigger the city, the more things there are to do, and therefore the more people there will be. New Orleans, one of the most famous cities in the country, is overflowing with attractions, from that brilliant musician playing down the street to that show you’ve heard all about to that bar you want to check out. So, why might this particular city report approximately 40 pedestrian traffic deaths in the last 3 years, when cities of comparable size are only reporting 11 or fewer? It seems that pedestrians are expected to cross streets without traffic signals.
The Big Easy isn’t the biggest, most populous city in the country, but with 463 lighted intersections, it’s certainly not the smallest. Only 62 of those 463 intersections have pedestrian crossing signals. Even the Central Business District, which was recently redeveloped to accommodate more walkers, doesn’t have a single pedestrian signal. Bigger cities with more intersections tout blinking “WALK” lights at more than 80 percent of crosswalks, which translates to about every major corner. In fact, most major cities have at least 50 percent of their crosswalks boasting crossing signals, and the peer city of Tampa has signals on a whopping 99 percent of its intersections.
The Federal Highway Administration says that pedestrian crossing signals can cut the risk of collisions by half. New Orleans is on the agency’s radar, recognized as a city that continuously has high pedestrian fatality rates. It’s not as if improvements haven’t been attempted. Years after receiving state funding, the city began upgrading some intersections in 2015 by adding countdown timers to signals. Nine months later, those timers were still wrapped up and not in use. A report from the New Orleans Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that the Department of Public Works was using “gut calls” to decide where to put traffic signals, rather than using data and statistics. The decisions were also made using an outdated informal rule that signals had to be restricted to intersections where traffic could be stopped in all directions.
A few other major cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., decided to help increase pedestrian safety by joining the Vision Zero program. Begun in Sweden in 1997, it is based on the principle that “it can never be ethically acceptable that people are killed or seriously injured when moving within the road transport system.” The program shifts the responsibility of accidents from being solely on those who use the road to a shared liability with those who designed it. New Orleans officials have discussed this program, but have yet to declare that they intend to adopt it.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact experienced Louisiana pedestrian accident attorney Chris Roy Jr, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping victims of negligence in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. Benefit from his assistance and knowledge by contacting the firm for a free initial consultation. Call 1-318-987-8170 to get help today.