Editor’s note: This piece is in response to John Ruch’s column on the same topic.
By Guest Columnist JOSH ROWAN, a friend of James Curtis and former ATLDOT commissioner.
Imagine a senior living center, major hospital, and world-renowned neurorehabilitation center in proximity. What facility would you add to complete this campus? A walking trail? A city park? An outdoor dining plaza? An arboretum? A zoo? An art gallery?
Unfortunately for people in the vicinity of Heartis Senior Living, Piedmont Hospital, and Shepherd Center, they encounter a fast, unforgiving street daily. For my dear friend James Curtis, the dangerous conditions at the intersection of Peachtree Road and Peachtree Valley Road resulted in serious injury. Curtis’ wheelchair-to-automobile crash could have been prevented too.
How can crossing Peachtree Road be made safer and be made safer now?
In school zones, we protect our children with lower speed limits. Quite often, there is either a crossing guard or a law enforcement officer to assist children when crossing the street. We use flashing school zone beacons and radar speed signs to alert drivers. Many jurisdictions use video enforcement on school buses and are considering radar speed enforcement.
What should we do in senior zones? Or hospital zones? Prioritize and protect the pedestrians as if they were schoolchildren. We know what to do. We already do it.
From an engineering perspective, there are several simple options to be considered at the intersection of Peachtree Road at Peachtree Valley Road. These items are low cost and could be completed next week:
- Adjust the signal for a seven-second leading pedestrian interval
- Move the Peachtree Road crosswalk to the north side of the intersection
- Place speed tables on Peachtree Valley Road
- Install pedestrian advance warning signs and flashing beacons from all directions
- Restripe the crosswalks
- Ensure that all phases of the pedestrian signals are operating
Look at the photo to the right. How many people do you see waiting to cross the street? Look again. Do you see James Curtis in his wheelchair waiting to cross Peachtree Road? The driver probably doesn’t either.
A major issue here is the drivers either do not see or are not looking for pedestrians. Please don’t tell my wife, but I stood in the crosswalk in the outside lane of southbound Peachtree Road, and three vehicles turned left immediately in front of me from Peachtree Valley Road. They weren’t looking for me. They didn’t see me. If I had been one more lane over, all three vehicles would have hit me. As a side note, all three drivers were texting. The enormous truck would have packed a wallop, but we can talk about ridiculous vehicle size later.
How do we slow the cars down? How do we warn the drivers the sidewalks are being used by pedestrians? What about at night when the pedestrian risk is 300 percent higher?
Let’s work together to protect our vulnerable road users and implement simple, near-term solutions while we address the bigger issue of road design and changes to the infrastructure. Many people depend upon this intersection to function safely – every time they use it. In the meantime, I have some additional ideas to improve the pedestrian safety, especially in low-light conditions, and will report back soon.
Would you like to write a guest column for SaportaReport? The SR team strives to uplift and amplify the diverse perspectives in our community, and we want to hear from you! Email Editor Derek Prall to discuss the specifics.
Peachtree can be pedestrian friendly south of the Connector Bridge because there are alternative north and south routes (Spring and West Peachtree) to handle thru traffic.
North of the bridge, that’s just not possible. The city was designed with single through routes from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed.
We see it everywhere. The flat route, the route that should be most accessible by people and bikes, is overloaded with cars going through, not to. Think Clairmont Road. North Decatur. DeKalb Ave. Any effort to slow traffic there comes up against the fact there’s no alternate route. Same is true for Peachtree north of the bridge, all the way north.
Slowing thru traffic is going to be very difficult because of how Atlanta is designed. That’s probably why NYC decided on a grid for Manhattan in 1811.
Thank you to Josh Rowan for taking the time to write and document that specific location.
Add Northside Drive between 10th and 14th Streets – very pedestrian unfriendly (dangerous is more accurate), 14th St from Howell Mill to Williams Street (I almost got runover by a left-turning car intentionally cutting in front of us in the crosswalk at onramp to the southbound connector on 14th St – driver missed me by less than a foot and was accelerating w/o remorse).
Pedestrian and LIT (light individual transportation) users could use beefed up protection, better design of streets and pathways.
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