A common theme heard in older areas originally constructed without pedestrian safety in mind is that people walking on the streets has never been an issue. Often residents will openly discuss how it was fine when their children were younger and there has been no accidents. There are a few problems with this approach.
- The view by the resident is not supported by data, it is supported by their single life experience. A good researcher would talk to a statically significant number of residents before making an assumption on safety.
- There is a core fallacy that because something has not happened it will never happen. The reason this is poor argument is that it again pulls upon present experience. Think of insurance and risk in general. Insurance exists to protect you against things that usually have not yet happened yet. Be it medical, home, or auto insurance, the point of insurance is to pool money together from multiple sources into a collection to pay out a few people who have an incident. Most people will not have an incident. The same holds true for walkability, most of the time an area will be fine – until it is not. It is paramount that like insurance we design our neighborhoods with low risk in mind.
For one family the poor design cost their young daughter her life. Golf road touches a number of villages in the north Chicago suburbs: Glenview, Morton Grove, Golf and Skokie. There are running and horse riding trails which reside at Harms Rd and Golf Rd. A young woman was walking down Golf at night in a poorly lit section which lacks sidewalks. This forced her on to the street. According to the article in Chicago Tribune a driver unknowingly struck the woman. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glenview/crime/ct-gla-hit-and-run-tl-0225-20160218-story.html
Do you think a properly designed sidewalk would have help minimize the risk to this woman?