Roads in the suburbs are deadly for the most vulnerable people.

According to an AJC article, this is the spot in Cobb County where a 7-year-old girl with autism was killed last night after being hit by a car.

In an area that’s surrounded by homes, and that’s near an elementary school, a driver was going fast enough to kill someone; fast enough to not be able stop in time before taking the life of a child. That’s infuriating to me, and it should be to others as well. We’ve built too many places like this that are objectively, sickeningly wrong. We need to stop allowing them to stay that way ,while people die.

The design of the road plays a major role in the danger. The lanes are so wide that they encourage fast speeds. The distances between traffic signals allow drivers too much comfort in the so-called ‘level of service’ that the road provides to them for speeding.

This was preventable, as is true of many similar deaths and injuries of pedestrians in our car-centric places.

There are many apologists out there for the status quo of suburban roads and I know exactly what they will argue in the face of this tragedy, because I’ve heard it all before:

“it happened at night – you can’t expect road safety then!”

“she shouldn’t have been out there alone; it’s not the fault of urban design!”

“we can’t just drive 20 MPH everywhere; trips will take too long! People on foot need to find other ways to be safe!”

…and more. But none of that is an excuse for roads that put deadly-fast cars next to homes. I grew up in this area. I know very well how hostile it is for walking. I know the huge irony of suburban areas, which are known for being so-called ‘good places to raise a kid’, in reality being deadly for walking and riding bikes.

This is a tragic echo of an incident a few months ago when an autistic child and his caregiver in Clayton County were hit by a car; the child died. Once again, the driver was going too fast to stop in time – something the road design seems to encourage. The most vulnerable users of suburban roads are being killed and something needs to happen, though the way forward is unclear to me.

Every now and then I think about bringing a lawsuit against the Atlanta Regional Commission for doing too little to advance pedestrian-centered design across the suburbs. Our car-centric sprawl has caused so much harm.

I know it wouldn’t accomplish much, but I’m so damn angry. I essentially need a target to punch, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

If anyone knows of a positive “call to action” to draw from this, please share it in the comments. This has beaten me down.

EDIT: the hit-and-run driver who killed the child in Cobb County has been arrested.

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ThreadATL co-founder: http://threadatl.org || Advocacy for good urbanism in Atlanta || atlurbanist -at- gmail.com

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Darin Givens

Darin Givens

ThreadATL co-founder: http://threadatl.org || Advocacy for good urbanism in Atlanta || atlurbanist -at- gmail.com

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