We are second in the state maybe we can get them to come here?
By Mark R. Kent
May 07, 2010, 9:00AM
MOBILE, Ala. -- The greater Mobile area leads Alabama in the rate of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities -- 31 deaths in 2007-08 alone -- but an advocate of traffic re-engineering says it's more than just judgment errors that kill.
During a seminar Thursday night, Dave Goldberg of the advocacy group Transportation for America cited a national problem of urban and suburban street and road design that favors expanding auto needs at the expense of those who walk, ride bikes or use public transportation.
And it's nothing new, according to Goldberg. Highways feeding suburbs that sprung up after World War II separated residential areas from commercial zones and schools, making walking both impractical and increasingly dangerous. It made America a society increasingly dependent on the car, he said.
Speaking at a seminar titled "Dangerous by Design" as part of Healthy Coast Week, Goldberg showed pictures of numerous examples of roads that he said ignore the needs of pedestrians, including one along which he walks his son to school in Decatur, Ga.
"More than half of pedestrian fatalities happen along arterial roads, often state roads widened from two lanes to four or more," Goldberg said. "About 40 percent are killed where there is no crosswalk available."
Goldberg's group was one of several that advocated the establishment of "complete streets," arteries that serve not only cars but dedicated passage for public transportation, bicycles and walkers.
Three area communities -- Fairhope, Daphne and Chickasaw -- were cited at the seminar for complete-street policies already in place.
Goldberg said his group's long-term goals are to instill policies that repair existing roads and bridges, promote public transportation and complete streets, reclaim aging corridors -- especially in areas "where big-box stores stand vacant" -- and to give new life to arterial roads.
Citing an aging population in the United States, an AARP spokesman said that future community developers need to address not only outdoor needs, but development of homes more easily accessible to older people who may have trouble getting around.
Adam Goldberg -- no relation to David Goldberg -- displayed a number of illustrations showing homes with wide entrances and no porches situated in communities where people can move about "without fear of isolation."
Citing a figure of 29 percent of non-drivers among more than 404,000 people in greater Mobile, Sharon Z. Rorety of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking echoed the sentiments of both Goldbergs in advocating more space for cyclists and walkers.
Smart Coast honored longtime activist Teko Wiseman with its "Giraffe Award" for "sticking her neck out" with her work in helping develop bike and walking trails from Fairhope through Daphne and on to the Battleship USS Alabama.