Friday, January 27, 2012

TOP STORY >> Study reveals road dangers for area cities

Leader senior staff writer

The high incidence of pedestrian and bicycle crashes with motor vehicles on South First Street in Jacksonville and on Main Street in Cabot between Hwy. 67/167 and the public school complex at Polk Street requires further study, according to a Metroplan draft report released to its board Wednesday.

In Little Rock and North Little Rock, eight other corridors are recommended for further study, according to the report.

“The next step is to get police reports, review them, then deliver them to the cities and make recommendations,” according to Metroplan’s Casey Covington.

The study, which mapped hundreds of crashes by GIS location, found clusters of accidents at various intersections and corridors throughout Pulaski, Lonoke, Saline and Faulkner counties from 2001 through 2010.

Including Sherwood — with Gravel Ridge — Jacksonville, Cabot, Austin and Ward, the four-county study found an average of 140 pedestrians and 50 cyclists are involved each year, averaging 100 serious injuries and 11 fatalities.


The intersection of Hwy. 38 and South Polk Street in Cabot has been the site of four pedestrian crashes over those years, putting it in a five-way tie for the eighth most dangerous pedestrian intersection in the four-county area.

As far as dangerous corridors, a two-mile stretch of West Main Street in Cabot has seen 22 crashes, including the four at Hwy. 38 and South Polk Street.

On the stretch of Hwy. 67/167 including the area from Sherwood through Cabot, seven deaths were recorded during that period, as well as 25 other pedestrian accidents.

Most of these involve pedestrians trying to cross the highway; most of the rest were walking along the side.

Among about 20 Cabot pedestrian accidents, one was a fatality in September 2008 when a motorcyclist struck two pedestrians leaving a Cabot football game.

In the general area east of Hwy. 67/167, north of Richie Road, the study locates 18 pedestrian accidents and 14 bike accidents from 2001 through 2010. They include seven pedestrian and two bike crashes on that area of Hwy. 89 (Main Street) alone, with another four pedestrian and three bike crashes on that section of Hwy. 367 and six pedestrian and three bike crashes on North Lincoln, including the fatality.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert, who is also vice president of the Metroplan board of directors, says the city now has sidewalks along about two blocks of Main, with grants confirmed for another two or three blocks. He hopes eventually to have sidewalks from the schools all the way to Hwy. 67/167.

A new traffic signal at the intersection of Locust and Lincoln streets may also increase pedestrian safety.

Between 1995 and 2010, 103 pedestrian crashes in Lonoke County accounted for nine deaths, while in Pulaski County, 1,939 pedestrians were hit and 118 died.

During that same period, one bicyclist was killed among 45 bike accidents in Lonoke County, and eight of 612 bicycle/vehicle crashes resulted in death.

Of about 45 pedestrian accidents in Jacksonville, four were fatal.

“While this is a small percent of the total number of vehicle crashes, it represents 10 percent of the total number of fatalities and is a major concern for pedestrians and in the bicycle community,” according to the report.

North Little Rock had the highest pedestrian crash rate in the four counties, with about 32.5 per 100,000 population. By comparison, the pedestrian crash rate per 100,000 in Jacksonville was 15; unincorporated Pulaski County, 13; Cabot 11; Sherwood 8, and unincorporated Lonoke County 5.


The report identified six pedestrian crashes on Hwy. 67/167 or frontage roads and another six pedestrian and six bicycle crashes on Kiehl Avenue.

In Gravel Ridge, there have been eight pedestrian and four bicycle crashes between 2001 and 2010. Those include three pedestrians and one bicycle crash on Hwy. 107 with an equal number on Jacksonville Cutoff.

Maumelle had the lowest pedestrian/bicycle crash rate, perhaps because the pedestrian/bike system is separated from the motorized traffic, the Metroplan study postulated.

North Little Rock led the fatality rate with 2 per 100,000 population, compared to Jacksonville, the second deadliest, with 1.6 deaths per 100,000. Both Cabot and Sherwood had about 0.3 deaths per 100,000.

Lonoke County recorded 103 pedestrian crashes between 1995 and 2010, with nine fatalities, while Pulaski County recorded 1,939 crashes with 118 fatalities.

During that same period,45 bicycle crashes were recorded in Lonoke County with one fatality, and 612 bicycle crashes in Pulaski County with eight fatalities.


In Jacksonville, there were 15 pedestrian crashes on Hwy. 67/167 from 2001-2010, with six fatalities. During the same time, on South First Street, there were seven pedestrian crashes with one death and seven bicycle crashes with no fatalities.

In the Sunnyside area, there were six pedestrian crashes and seven bicycle crashes.

Overall, the study found that minorities and young people are disproportionate affected, according to the study.

The purpose of this analysis is to evaluate pedestrian/bicyclist safety within the Central Arkansas Regional Transportation Study (CARTS) area and provide a comparative assessment to the baseline initially established in the previous study.

Building on the previous study, this update seeks to identify specific intersections and roadway segments with the highest number of crashes and greatest levels of safety concern.

Black males under 16 had the highest pedestrian and bicyclist crash rate. However, black males 16 and over had the highest pedestrian fatality rate. Nearly 64 percent of pedestrian crashes were not at intersections, contrasting with the nearly 65 percent of bicycle crashes occurring at intersections.

Central Arkansas’ 15-year pedestrian fatality rate is lower than the national rate and the state’s rate. Nearly 80 percent of pedestrian fatalities were not at the intersection and 57 percent of bicycle fatalities occurred at the intersection. Twenty-two percent of the pedestrians were crossing the roadway when killed. About 60 percent of pedestrian crashes occurred during dark, dawn or dusk conditions.

Sidewalks were present in only 47 percent of pedestrian crashes mapped. Crosswalks were present in 22 percent of pedestrian incidents.

Speed was identified as a contributing factor in both the likelihood of a crash and its severity, according to the report.