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Urban sprawl may be bad for pedestrians

The growth in Houston and its surrounding suburbs has been unprecedented in recent years, even with the decline in the residential and commercial real estate markets. With such growth comes additional vehicular traffic, and city planners have addressed this with redesigned streets.

Cities such as Cypress have gone to great extents to separate pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic in an effort limit pedestrian accidents. Essentially, natural barriers (i.e. greenspace) separates walking paths from streets, and in some places, guardrails protect them from oncoming traffic. 

Despite these changes, crossings remain a problem.

Several factors contribute to this issue. Major throughfares have multiple lanes with no (or very small) center islands, which increases the chances that pedestrians may be struck by a car. Also, greater stretches of roads have little or no lighting. When pedestrians aren't seen, they are more likely to be hit, especially at night.

Also, mini-strip malls and stand alone stores are being constructed in big box store parking lots, which increase the possibility of pedestrians being hit.

Despite these dangers, motorists have a duty to look our for (and avoid) pedestrians. When drivers use excessive speed and fail to yield (to bicyclists or pedestrians) this can be viewed as a breach of this duty, and can subject the driver to civil liability. If a pedestrian is injured by an offending driver, he or she can seek compensation for their injuries, including money for lost income as well as pain and suffering.

If you have questions about other rights and options for injured pedestrians, an experienced attorney can help.

Source: cironline.org, Car is king in street design, to detriment of pedestrians, April 30, 2013

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