Atlanta pedestrian safety lags national improvement

While a study by the Centers for Disease Control found that U.S. roadways became safer for pedestrians between 2000 and 2004, conditions did not improve in Atlanta.

Among the culprits cited by the CDC were urban sprawl, a lack of sidewalks and long street blocks.

The report said the numbers of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in the U.S. dropped from 1.7 to 1.6, which was considered significant. However, in the 28-county Atlanta area, the rate remained essentially the same.

The number in the Atlanta area actually increased from 1.6 in 2000 to 2.0 in 2004, but the study’s authors did not consider that meaningful due to a smaller data pool.

One complaint about many of metro Atlanta’s main arteries is the distance between crosswalks, requiring pedestrians to walk hundreds of yards to cross at intersections to avoid jaywalking.

The report found Atlanta pedestrian fatalities were more likely to occur away from road intersections, suggesting they occur among people walking along the sides of roads or crossing at mid-block.

The report also noted that Hispanics in metro Atlanta had twice the risk of pedestrian fatality (2.5 deaths per 100,000) as Hispanics nationwide (1.3).

Males and people between 15 and 54 also were at higher risk.

The rate in the five counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett was 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 people as opposed to 1.1 in the other 23 metro counties.

Cultural Fund remains a city priority

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin last March announced she would search for sources to fund a $10 million-a-year Cultural Investment Fund to support artists, arts organizations and cultural institutions. Eight months later, it appears the plan has been scaled back for the first year or so.

According to the official statement from the mayor’s office (but not directly from the mayor), no hard deadline has been set but the fund remains a priority for the city of Atlanta.

The city is exploring general fund sources for the fiscal year 2009 budget.

At an October meeting of arts administrators, Camille Love, the director of Atlanta’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs, said the fund “may come out of the box with $1 million or $2 million.”

Mayor Franklin apparently has asked the city’s finance department to investigate how the city’s revenue stream could support the fund and with how much.

“If you ask me,” Love said, “It is going to happen.”

The task force for the program is lead by Penelope McPhee, president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.