It’s Time to Take Action on Atlanta’s Pedestrian Death Epidemic: A Statement from Propel ATL

It’s time to make a change.

In 2021, 31 people were struck and killed by cars in the City of Atlanta while walking, just trying to get where they needed to go. This year, this unfortunate trend got worse, with 38 people killed while walking inside Atlanta city limits. Even one death is too many. We are seeing way too many. As news reports tell us, this local pattern is part of a national problem: The number of pedestrians being killed by cars is the highest it’s been in four decades.

But we can choose to be better than that, Atlanta.

After all, these deaths are not inevitable “accidents.” Instead, they are caused by dangerous street design that makes it easy for cars to speed and hard for people to get to places they need to go safely by foot, wheelchair, or bike.  

In fact, in Atlanta, new analysis shows that just ten percent of our streets account for nearly three-quarters of all deaths and severe injuries--making up a system of streets we call the "High-Injury Network." What’s more, many of these streets are located in communities with lower median incomes, a larger share of Black residents, higher rates of walking and taking transit to work, and lower rates of vehicle ownership. These same neighborhoods also have some of the lowest sidewalk coverage in the city. (See the map.)

This means we could virtually eradicate our city’s pedestrian crash epidemic with changes like signalized, clearly marked crosswalks and narrower lanes on just ten percent of our streets.

Recently, Propel ATL published a report and story map detailing the toll of this epidemic.

Let’s think about what kind of city we want to be. In 2020, the City of Atlanta committed to Vision Zero, a proven approach to eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries through safe street design and speed management. We need to hold the city to that commitment so that no one, regardless of geography or race, experiences danger or fear when they walk, bike, or catch the bus to work or school.

Too many of our roads were made to speed cars through. We need streets that prioritize getting people home safely instead.

Let’s transform our streets into spaces that are safe for everyone, no matter how they get around. After all, no one should die trying to get somewhere.


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