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Baltimore a High-Risk City for Pedestrian Accidents

Baltimore falls in the middle of the list of the 50 most dangerous cities for pedestrians. In spite of the fact that it does not come in at the top of the list, there are still a significant number of walkers dying in Baltimore pedestrian accidents annually. need-an-ambulance-1512594

City Paper indicates the average number of accidents involving pedestrians from 2009 to 2013 was 847 collisions per year. In most of these accidents, the pedestrians wound up getting hurt. In an average of 15 cases per year, the pedestrian was fatally injured. Baltimore City accounts for close to a third of accidents and injuries involving pedestrians in the state of Maryland, despite having just 11 percent of the total population of the state. The statistics may actually be even worse than this, because the accident count is likely underreported.

City Paper provided this data as part of a comprehensive article titled "Walk Hard: Baltimore is unsafe for and unsympathetic to pedestrians." The article looked at why Baltimore is falling short and why pedestrians face such substantial risks throughout the city.

Baltimore is a Risky Place for Pedestrian Accidents

City Paper provided an example of a transportation planner who previously worked for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, who also happened to be struck by a car. She was in a crosswalk in Harbor East when the incident happened. She had pushed the button and was waiting for the light to turn, and was hit by a driver making a left in the center of the crosswalk. She was knocked down by the impact, did a back flip, and ended up on her hands and knees. The officer did not ticket the driver who hit her, expressing sympathy for the driver and saying if he hit someone he wouldn't want to get a ticket.

The police officer likely took the attitude that everyone drives and could make mistakes. He put himself in the shoes of the driver, rather than the walker who ended up getting hit. This happens time and again, with city planners and others in positions of authority thinking about the needs of drivers and making the needs of pedestrians a lesser priority.

Baltimore's transportation planners have signed on to the Complete Streets design concept, which involves taking account of all road users (including pedestrians and bikes) when designing roads. However, even in using Complete Streets principles, car flow is still the first consideration, and the needs of pedestrians are taken into account only after efforts are made to ensure traffic can move smoothly.

Bike and pedestrian advocates are trying to change the dominant culture in Baltimore from one which is so focused on drivers, but the process is likely to be slow. Until substantial changes are made, drivers who make unsafe decisions need to be held accountable. Often, the best way to impose accountability is for seriously injured victims to pursue civil claims so these motorists have to cover the losses they caused by driving unsafely.

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