Pedestrian Safety Funding from the Federal Government to Create Comprehensive Safety Action Plans for Local Cities
National statistics show that since 2011, pedestrian and cyclist deaths have increased by 64% to an estimated 8,413 in 2022. For decades, our streets were designed to move more cars without much thought about pedestrians. Many don’t have sidewalks, and navigating on foot can be difficult.
Congressman Hank Johnson’s office has secured funding for three municipalities. Clarkston is receiving $1 million, Newton County $400,000 and Chamblee $240,000.
Mayor Burks explains that Clarkston is our state's most densely populated city, with 7000 citizens per square mile. Additionally, her city comprises refugees who speak many different languages and have cultural norms that are often different. I spoke about growing up and being directed to walk facing the traffic. This allows you to see vehicles coming your way. Today, many people walk and ride bicycles with the traffic, even on streets without sidewalks.
When asked about sidewalks, Mayor Burks shares that they are expensive because of concrete costs and because cities often have to purchase the land from property owners to install sidewalks, and then there is the maintenance. She mentioned the need to educate communities about using and navigating streets safely if walking, biking, and driving. Lighting is another expense that Clarkston is tackling by using LED bulbs, which are brighter and less costly.
The city will receive federal funds, and they plan to create a Green Way connecting parks and trails and allowing citizens to navigate the city. This project will include “pocket parks” so seniors can safely take breaks and sit on benches as they make their way.