In any urban or suburban environment, there will be a potentially dangerous mix of motor vehicles and pedestrians (or bicyclists). And in this smartphone era, where distracted driving is on the rise, commercial property owners and civil engineers need to take proactive measures to ensure pedestrian safety.
We all know about the horrific vehicular terrorism attacks that occurred in Nice, Barcelona, Stockholm, London, and New York City; but the truth is, such events are actually quite rare. In reality, pedestrian death and injury is more likely to be the result of a distracted or confused driver, not a jihadist or a homicidal motorist. Statistics show that about 430 pedestrians go to the emergency room for traffic-related injuries each day in America, and that a traffic-related pedestrian fatality occurs every 1.6 hours in this country. Atlanta is no stranger to pedestrian hazards, and the problem doesn’t appear to be improving. In 2011, Atlanta’s metro area was ranked as the 11th most deadly for pedestrians in the U.S., but rose to 8th in 2014!
People aren’t just injured or killed by cars and trucks while on sidewalks or in crosswalks. There are approximately 60 accidents each day in the U.S. where a vehicle crashes into a storefront. In fact, a 7-Eleven gets hit about 1.3 times per day, and a Dunkin’ Donuts gets crashed into approximately four times a week. So, what can be done to keep people safe around motor vehicles? It wouldn’t be practical to tell people just to stay home, and not everyone can afford their own Iron Man suit. One answer is “protective architecture.”
What Is Protective Architecture?
Protective architecture refers to the practice of designing public places in a manner that keeps people and motor vehicles separated, and also protects people and structures from being crashed into. Government buildings, like embassies throughout the world, employ protective architecture to prevent attacks, like the car bomb assault on the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 305 peacekeepers in 1983. If you take a trip to Washington, D.C., you’ll see plenty of examples of protective architecture.
Common Types of Protective Architecture
- K-rails: K-rails, also known as Jersey barriers or Jersey barricades, are portable, modular, reinforced concrete barriers, usually used to separate lanes of traffic and protect road construction workers. While K-rails are convenient for temporary or emergency use, they are generally considered an eyesore and are not truly a part of a building or public place.
- Walls: Reinforced walls can do a good job of protecting structures and pedestrians, but can obstruct views and cause foot and bicycle traffic to become congested. Part of this problem can be remedied by providing periodic gaps in the walls that are large enough for pedestrians to pass through, but too small for motor vehicles.
- Ha-has: A “ha-ha” is a landscape design using a recessed trench leading to a wall. The original purpose of ha-has was to keep livestock away from a house or garden, while not obstructing the view of the landscape beyond. A ring of ha-has surrounds the Washington Monument in our nation’s Capital. The problem with ha-has in a public place is that they cause foot traffic to become congested, and also create the danger of someone falling off the wall and into the trench.
- Bollards: Bollards are thick posts of steel or reinforced concrete that are placed at intervals, allowing the free flow of foot and bicycle traffic, but blocking motor vehicles from crossing into pedestrian areas or crashing into buildings. Bollards have proven to be highly effective in urban and suburban areas. One complaint about bollards is that they are an eyesore and ruin the aesthetic of otherwise attractive public spaces. This has been remedied in several ways. Bollards can be designed, or covered, to fit in with their surroundings. Parts of Wall Street are lined with Cubist-like bollards that enhance the area’s appearance. Another way communities have made bollards look less offensive is by making them function as large, concrete planters. Greenery has the ability to not only purify the air in an urban area, but also soften the sometimes-harsh environment that cities display.
Overall, it is the responsibility of property owners and municipalities to ensure that all citizens are given a safe environment where they can go about their business without the risk of serious bodily injury or death.
If you have been injured in a public space where you should have been protected, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. A successful injury lawsuit can provide you with compensation for losses you’ve suffered, including medical bills, pain and suffering, long-term care, lost wages, and much more. But filing a personal injury claim can be a complicated affair, especially when the defendant is a well-insured business owner or government entity. To get the compensation you rightly deserve, you’ll need an experienced storefront accident attorney who is not afraid to go to trial on your behalf. For nearly two decades, Wayne and Kimberly Grant have been fighting for the rights of Georgia injury victims and their families. Let them put their skill and compassion to work on your case by calling (866) 249-5513 or in Atlanta, (404) 995-3955, for a free case evaluation.