The world is rapidly urbanizing as more people are moving into cities in search of jobs to gain a better standard of living. In order to accomodate for the growing population, more houses and stores have to be built. Since America has a huge amount of land that it can expand upon over vast distances compared to the densely populated European countries, depending on where you live, the nearest store to you could either be half a mile or ten miles away from you.
Everyday, many pedestrians are involved in road accidents that injure or even kill victims. With the invention of the car, public spaces have been pushed to the side to make room for more roadways to increase the speed and efficiency at which commercial cars can move. While sidewalks are an essential to city living, more often than not, when anyone needs to walk around, they are forced to walk on the street itself, posing a great risk to their safety. The cost to customize the street with safer features is usually a costly investment because of all the compromises involved, but some of them are what makes a street “complete” for all types of transportation.
Before the car was introduced to the masses, all types of transportation could freely move around on the road such as horse drawn carriages, which were much slower compared to today’s automobiles, allowing even people on foot to roam with little to no risk. During the early 20th century, cars grew in popularity as they were being mass produced in high volumes and marketed at affordable prices. The general public now had the ability to go further distances, which aligned with the American Dream that is characterized by freedom and independence. The landscape of America can be attributed to the favoring of cars over other modes of transportation. Streets have created an environment where cars are prioritized over people, which poses a great threat to pedestrians. Most road accidents occur due to the negligence of drivers who can be easily distracted from using their electronic devices, eating while driving, applying makeup, etc. At higher speed limits, drivers have a slower reaction time and need a longer distance to brake before coming to a complete stop. Unless the speed of cars can be decreased with speed bumps, the fatality of pedestrians will only increase as more collisions occur.
As roads expand to manage more car traffic, sidewalks are forced to become narrower and can’t deal with as much pedestrian congestion. If a sidewalk was not originally implemented alongside the construction of the road, it would be an expensive investment to go back and try to add it in because of all the compromises that have to be taken into account to make it work. City planners have to make sure that the sidewalk is at least wide enough for people to walk on. However, creating it with a gentle and even slope which offers a clear line of sight allows everyone, including the handicapped, to use it. In order to ensure the safety of pedestrians, crosswalks and signs have to be made visible to drivers to keep them on alert and countdown clocks must be distanced properly to allow people to safely get across in time. The presence of crosswalks does not necessarily mean that a street is safe, they merely act as a guide for the intended route. Some people may take advantage of the fact that pedestrians have the right of way, choosing to go a route where there is no crosswalk available to save time and taking a leap of faith that all passing cars will stop for them, increasing the risk of them getting hit by a car.
As roads are getting busier, it is extremely crucial for people who decide to do this to make the decision only after carefully examining to their left and right whether it is clear of any cars before crossing the road. As previously mentioned, as roads expand, it becomes Sidewalks are meant to be used by everyone, including car owners. They allow kids to walk to school safely, the elderly to exercise in their free time, and stimulate social interactions to form new relationships.
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