Study seeks to improve safety for walkers

Nearly 9 percent of Ohio’s fatal accident involved pedestrians.

A new national study is the latest call for more focus on the hazards faced by pedestrians traveling along roads in the Dayton area and across the country.

State highway officials committed $2.5 million to safety improvements along Ohio 235 in Clark County after four pedestrians were struck and killed by cars while walking along the road between 2007 and 2010.

In Dayton, officials considered but later rejected the idea of adding a crosswalk on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard after a 63-year-old Dayton woman was killed in April by a passing motorist while jaywalking near a bus stop and hospital facilities.

Deadly By Design, a report released this week by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition, found that between 2003 and 2012, 1,012 people were killed by motorists while walking in Ohio — almost 9 percent of the 11,807 traffic-related fatalities in the state during this period.

In the Dayton region, 73 or 8.5 percent of 859 traffic fatalities were pedestrians, compared to 187 or 9.5 percent of 1,962 in the Cincinnati region, which includes Middletown and Butler County, according to data gathered for the report.

The report lays out steps that would help prevent pedestrians from being hit by cars, including the addition of sidewalks, high-visibility crosswalks and “refuge islands,” as well as lower speed limits and different street designs.

Ohio ranked 24th among states in the study, which used regional data drawn from the National Highway Traffic Administration database to compare the rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 in population.

“We know that pedestrian and bicycle safety is an important issue. That is why the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) has a Complete Streets policy and why we have included sidewalks and bike paths on such projects as Austin Boulevard,” Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner said in an email.

Complete Streets

In 2009, MVRPC initiated a Complete Streets Policy in the region, which includes all of Montgomery, Greene and Miami counties, as well as Carlisle, Franklin and Springboro in Warren County.

“The policy requires jurisdictions to take into consideration the needs of all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and persons with disabilities. All projects requesting MVRPC-controlled funding must abide by this policy,” Brian Martin, executive director of MVRPC, said in an email.

MVRPC administers federal highway funding in the region.

In addition, Dayton, Riverside and Piqua have adopted local Complete Streets policies, according to Martin. Other cities, including Springboro, extend sidewalk networks as part of programs designed to enable pedestrians and cyclists to move around the communities safely.

Pedestrian fatalities

Yet from 2008 to 2010, 14 pedestrians were killed and another 493 were injured in crashes in the Miami Valley region, according to the MVRPC.

MVRPC also pinpointed places on roads and at intersections, including locations in Dayton, Piqua, Xenia and Troy, where there were at least three crashes involving cars and cyclists or pedestrians from 2008 to 2010.

In April, the Ohio Department of Transportation held a public hearing unveiling $2.5 million in safety improvements planned on a stretch of Ohio 235, where four pedestrians were struck and killed between 2007 to 2010. Driveways are to be consolidated, sidewalks and street lights added and traffic signals upgraded between Gerlaugh and Dille roads. A bike path is to built.

Also in April, Janet Glasper, 63, of Dayton, was crossing Edwin C. Moses Boulevard - in a wheelchair and outside crosswalks, according to reports - when she was struck by a minivan and killed. City officials said they would consider installing a sidewalk in the area near a bus stop and an entrance road leading to Kindred Hospital Dayton and the Medical Center at Elizabeth Place.

“I’ll have my traffic engineering people take a look at the circumstances around the accident to see if there is something we can do to improve safety,” Fred Stovall, Dayton’s director of public works, said at the time. “But we don’t put a crosswalk at every bus stop.”

Montgomery County completed its first sidewalk-only project last year on Turner Road at Wolf Road due to safety concerns, according to Gruner.

“Unfortunately, many pedestrian and bicycle crashes are also due to pedestrians and bicyclists disobeying the law or being careless, which is an education and enforcement issue. Also unfortunate is that our budget situation is such that it’s going to be very difficult for us to program many pedestrian or bicycle projects in the future,” he said.

Pedestrian perspective

Tom Cox has walked — and run — along the streets of Dayton, Cincinnati and Lebanon.

“There are cars on the roads. You have a responsibility as well as they do. It’s a sharing thing. We all have a right to the space,” he said.

Cox said he stays alert while on exercise walks near his home in Lebanon, taken along routes with sidewalks.

In Lebanon, the route from the high school into the city has no sidewalks.

“When you get out where there’s no sidewalks, that’s another concern,” he said.

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