DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Pedestrian deaths have quadrupled in Durham. It’s a troubling statistic as local cyclists and walkers advocate for additional safety measures on city streets.
In March, a dump truck struck and killed a man as he crossed Hillsborough Road in a wheelchair.
In April, a car hit and killed a woman on Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard.
On Wednesday, Courtney Shaw walked across the same intersection on Holloway Street where a vehicle hit and seriously injured another pedestrian earlier Wednesday morning.
Those are just a few incidents that have taken place throughout the city so far in 2023.
“The last thing a person wants to do is hit a pedestrian from looking at their phone or just glancing over and hitting a pedestrian,” Shaw said.
Durham police have responded to multiple vehicle versus pedestrian crashes so far this year, and at least eight of those pedestrians were killed.
That number is four times the total pedestrian deaths the city saw last year. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were 109 vehicle versus pedestrian crashes that killed two people and injured 110.
“Until we get the momentum and get these priorities identified and pour the resources into improving our streets, we’re going to have more tragedies like this morning,” Bike Durham Executive Director John Tallmadge said.
The City of Durham recently announced a group of projects to increase walker and cyclist safety. One of the projects installs eight miles of new bike lanes on existing road.
Another project provides some streets with traffic circles and curb extensions to slow motor vehicles and shorten the crossing distance for walkers and riders.
Tallmadge continues to fight for additional measures so that people can walk and ride without getting hurt.
“We need to provide the infrastructure, slow the speeds down so that everyone can do it safely,” Tallmadge said.
NCDOT also reports 31 vehicle versus bicycle crashes, one fatality and 31 injuries in 2022.
Residents can now rank their top choices on a list of project proposals in Durham. A pair of them include more crosswalks and sidewalks.
Shaw would like to see more space for cyclists.
“I just don’t think that’s too safe for the bike pedestrians,” he said.