Making Charlotte safer for pedestrians after students hit by cars

A recent study ranked the Charlotte metro area as the 10th most deadly in the country for pedestrians.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After two Charlotte-Mecklenburg students were hit by cars in the same week, police and transportation officials are taking a closer look at Beatties Ford Road and Lasalle Street and pedestrian crashes generally.

A recent study ranked the Charlotte metro area as the 10th most deadly in the country for pedestrians.

More: W. Charlotte HS student struck by car

CMPD issued warnings asking walkers and drivers to be more mindful of their surroundings and to respect crosswalks and not to jaywalk.

But you can't blame all of Charlotte's pedestrian crashes on walkers or drivers.

One reason Charlotte ranks among the most dangerous places in the country for pedestrians: missing sidewalks on major thoroughfares - 138 miles of them according to a 2013 city Department of Transportation report, and more than 1,500 miles of missing sidewalks on neighborhood streets.

In some major thoroughfares you can sit and watch pedestrians play a kind of real life "frogger" game, dodging traffic outside of crosswalks.

After 20 deaths in one year, Charlotte's Department of Transportation produced a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan in 2013, for instance calling on CMPD to increase enforcement.

"They have had some pedestrian enforcement initiatives that have happened downtown where they have targeted jaywalking type things or drivers not yielding to pedestrians," said Detective Kevin Allred of the CMPD Major Crash Unit.

But it's unclear how much of the safety plan's recommendations have been implemented and what if any effect it has had.

CDOT spokeswoman Linda Durrett reported nine pedestrians died in Charlotte crashes last year and six so far this year.

After a car hit a West Charlotte High School student this morning on Beatties Ford Road, CMPD's Metro Division announced plans to put more motorcycle cops on the streets to get drivers attention.

And police say they plan to email students and neighbors reminding them to use crosswalks.

But it's going to take more than warnings to boost Charlotte out of the bottom of the nation when it comes to pedestrian safety.


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