COLUMBUS, Ohio (WYSX/WTTE) — Columbus is growing. That means more people, more traffic, and more danger on the roads. The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Council (MORPC) said Monday the number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes has gone up in the region over the past five years.
Stephen Patchan, Assistant Director of Planning & Sustainability for MORPC said “We are increasing in population, which means more people are driving and more people walking. Our community can be a challenge for pedestrians with wider streets and fewer crosswalks,” said Patchan.
Columbus Police said they investigated 431 pedestrian crashes in 2019. 23 of those crashes were fatal. “A lot of our streets are 35 miles per hour. They are posted that. If you go that speed and hit someone you still have a 50/50 chance of them surviving. You go over it. You are speeding, their chances of survival are decreased dramatically,” said Patchan.
Patchan said they are looking at areas where sidewalks are needed to fill the gap around the region. “It’s a big number to get sidewalks everywhere they need to be. So we want to make sure if it is on a street seeing a lot of crashes and fatalities, which unfortunately occur, that should be a prioritized area.”
“We would love to see those pedestrian deaths dip dramatically and I know a lot of communities are on the same page with us,” Patchan said. MORPC is working on implementing an action plan to increase pedestrian safety. Their goal is to reduce the fatalities by at least one percent each year.
Hallie Levine was walking in the campus area and said she is glad to hear the city and MORPC are working on a strategy to reduce the crashes.
“People just kind of walkout and expect the cars to stop for them, and not necessarily wait for cars to stop,” said Levine.
“Everyone is on their phones more and more every day, so I am sure that has something to do with it,” said pedestrian Jacob Purdue.
Zac Stava said being a pedestrian in a busy area can be scary.
“I see a lot of cars that are going too fast. I have been in this crosswalk here plenty of times where a car is zooming down and I think they are going to hit me.”
“Patience and understanding and driving cautiously is really the key to keeping as many people safe as possible,” Patchan said.