A University of Miami student, struck by a hit-and-run driver 10 days ago, has reportedly died of his injuries. The Miami herald reports:
Jared Paul Jones, a 21-year-old English major from Maryland, was pronounced dead about 2 a.m. by doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Coral Gables police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said. He had been in a coma after suffering severe head trauma in the accident at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 13.
Jones was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound on SW 57th Avenue (Red Road, SR959) at the intersection with Blue Rd (SW 48 Street) in Coral Gables. The FDOT maintained segment of the roadway stretches from the Dolphin Expressway south through Coral Gables and South Miami. While little details regarding the actual crash have emerged, it begs the question that if the FDOT had adopted and implemented a Complete Streets Policy that would help slow vehicles, placing pedestrians and cyclists on more equal footing, could accidents like these be avoided?
Let’s take a look at the conditions Jones was faced with as a Pedestrian attempting to cross SR959.
A Google street-view of of the southwest corner of SR 959 and Blue Road depicts a wide radius curve, a common engineering practice intended to facilitate the right turn movements of cars at higher velocities. A narrow curb radii, forces drivers to slow down, backing up traffic and reducing the number of cars that can turn during the signal cycle. Remember - this road was designed by a traffic engineer with one goal - to maximize the efficiency of the facility for vehicles. Discouraging pedestrians through design, reduces the number of pedestrians and thus the need to plan and design for their needs accordingly.
The crosswalks, faded and incomplete, connect poorly with the sidewalks themselves, leaving pedestrians to cut through a dirt or grass patch in order to cross - these certainly don’t meet today’s ADA accepted practices. The street-view also shows something curious - note the cyclist headed northbound on the sidewalk. SR959, a mere two-lane undivided facility at this stretch, is far too dangerous for cyclists - relegating them to ride on the sidewalk. The posted speed limit through this residential street is 40 mph. How many of us would let your kids walk to school through this intersection? David Fairchild Elementary School is located a mere four blocks north - I don’t expect that many kids walk to ride back to school daily - the street-scape discourages healthy, active modes of transportation such as cycling and walking.
Looking east of SR959 along Blue Road, we see that sidewalks cease to exist, leaving pedestrians to fend for themselves crossing through lawns and driveways or even worse, the roadway itself. The posted speed limit here is 30 mph.
An aerial view of the intersection depicts a curious bump-out on the southeast corner of the intersection. This sliver of pavement facilitates right turn movements, enabling vehicles to make this maneuver at a higher velocity. Its all about how many cars we can move through the intersection, little tricks like these help engineers improve the facility’s level-of-service (LOS) to an “acceptable” value at the expense of the pedestrian and cycling realm.
How do you like that bus stop placement too? Transit is clearly a priority here. Its no wonder why the route 57 metrobus has such dismal ridership (according to the July 2010 technical report this route carries only 643 daily riders). And, as the CNT H+T affordability index reports residents of this region expend 20% to 28% of household income on transportation, emit 20 to 30 Metric Tons of CO2 per acre, drive 14,000 to 16,000 miles annually, and spend 25 to 29 Minutes getting to work each day. The picture below of a stop south of the intersection captures the effect this incomplete street has on transit. Nothing could be more pleasant than than trekking through the grass to wait for a bus that comes every 40 minutes at best.
While I digressed on that last point - I want to convey that street design (or lack-thereof) is strongly correlated to our behavior, modal choice, living expenses, and environmental/health effects. Every single element of this street is designed to be an obstacle to anyone not traveling in a personal vehicle. Unfortunately, Jared Paul Jones paid the ultimate price.Could a complete street policy have saved Jones? Perhaps. Can we do more to make this street and other like it throughout the state more suitable for all forms of transportation? Certainly.
The image below depicts what a more such a facility could look like here on SR959.
Has the time come for a complete streets policy at all levels of government? I think so. I’ll be paying a visit to this intersection in person this week and will continue documenting the aspects that make this such an inhospitable place for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users alike. Stay Tuned.
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