People have no idea how difficult it is for wheelchairs to navigate the streets and sidewalks. My friend, Josh Rowan, is the first person to take the time to see just how horrific it is for wheelchairs to navigate streets and sidewalks. Josh has made my life easier more times than I care to admit.
I was fortunate enough to have met him through social media and to have developed a friendship that lasts a lifetime. He told me the purpose of the Department of Transportation (GDOT) is to help cars move quickly from A to B. This leaves pedestrians out of the equation. Atlanta Vision Zero puts them back in the equation. However, this leaves space for much confusion. Peachtree Road is a State Road where GDOT is responsible for it’s maintenance. Its sidewalks are the responsibility of the Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT). The lights and other equipment are a grey zone as to whom is responsible.
Vulnerable people like myself as well as countless other patients, employees, volunteers and people with mobility issues cross Peachtree Road on a daily basis. We cross Peachtree Road regardless of being afraid or intimidated. Like every other city, roads are built for cars to travel quickly and efficiently. Pedestrians are omitted from the equation. Is this deliberate or because pedestrians are slow-moving?
On Feb. 13, 2023, I was struck by a car while in the crosswalk between Shepherd Center and Heartis Senior Living Buckhead. I had crossed two-thirds of Peachtree Road and had crossed the double yellow lines as well as the northbound turn lane. The driver sped up Peachtree Valley and turned blindly onto Peachtree. She struck me going 35+ mph and sent my 260 lbs chair and myself flying ten feet in the air. My chair saved my life. Cars must slow down, and medians and crosswalks clearly identified.
The population in this hospital zone represents members of the most vulnerable populations. Of course, the signal for the crosswalk was broken. Who do you call in this situation? I have never had any success with ATL311. My service requests get lost in a black hole. Also, I was not able to use the intersection in front of the Shepherd driveway because of construction across the street. Google Fiber left a big wooden spool on the sidewalks where wheelchairs could not pass. The item is illustrated in the picture and had been there for a year and a half. Wheelchairs could not use the sidewalk. Nobody cared about the obstruction nor did any safety inspector report the hazard.
There was a Zoom call recently for Atlanta Vision Zero. A majority of the crashes on our streets take place because of speeding cars. Most accidents, like mine, could be prevented by reducing speeds. Drivers also need to be concentrating on driving and not texting and driving. Driving is a responsibility and privilege and please obey the laws. There is an APP that notifies drivers when pedestrians are in the crosswalk. Advancements in technology save lives.
A city as big as Atlanta only has three inspectors. Our priorities need to be evaluated. How many more serious injuries need to happen because of this oversight? Hospital zone needs to be painted clearly on Peachtree Road throughout this zone starting from Peachtree Walk to one block after Collier Road.