Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users on the road. People who choose to walk or jog around Georgia shouldn’t have to risk their lives every time they leave the house. Unfortunately, a climate of rushed and distracted drivers is putting pedestrians at greater risk of injury and death than ever before. Georgia was one of five states with more than 100 pedestrian deaths in 2016. In the first six months of 2016 alone, Georgia recorded 109 pedestrian fatalities. Protective architecture could be one of the keys to keeping pedestrians safe from traffic.
Defining Protective Architecture
Protective architecture refers to public place infrastructure designs that keep pedestrians and motor vehicles separate. It also keeps vehicles from crashing into structures and passersby. Currently, government buildings are some of the only examples of protective architecture in the U.S. These buildings use protective designs to prevent tragedies such as bombings and mass assaults. Design elements one might see in protective architecture are:
- Bollards, which are thick concrete or steel posts that prevent motor vehicles from being able to enter pedestrian areas of parking lots and crosswalks, as well as bicycle lanes. City planners place these posts at intervals too narrow to allow cars to pass through. Bollards are highly effective at preventing vehicles from crashing into people or structures in urban areas.
- Ha-has are an architecture design that involves a trench that leads to a wall. Ha-has can prevent pedestrians and vehicles from entering a certain place without obstructing the landscape. An example of this design element is the trench at the Washington Monument.
- K-rails are concrete or plastic barriers often used to separate two lanes of traffic. K-rails are typically bright orange and seen at construction zones to safely reroute traffic and protect workers. They are portable, generally temporary barricades.
- Reinforced walls, typically reinforced with concrete or other strong materials, can protect structures and pedestrians from oncoming vehicles. Cities have erected reinforced walls to separate motorists and pedestrians, leaving periodic gaps too small for vehicles to travel through to prevent obstructed views and relieve congested foot traffic.
An increased use of protective architecture around public areas where pedestrians frequently travel could reduce the number of injuries and deaths each year. Installing some form of protective architecture in areas of Georgia that see the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities, such as the Atlanta Metropolitan region, could save lives. While some design elements can present eyesores, cities can get creative with the ways they cover or decorate such elements to match their surroundings.
Who Is in Charge of Protective Architecture?
It is the city’s responsibility to take measures such as protective architecture to protect pedestrians in public places. Failure to do so when another city reasonably would have done so is negligence. This could entitle the accident victim to file a premises liability or personal injury claim. Protective architecture can help prevent pedestrian deaths. Next time you’re walking around Atlanta, take note of protective architecture you see surrounding buildings and crosswalks. Walk in these areas for your best chance of avoiding a collision.