Memphis city leaders hope to improve pedestrian safety

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Oct. 9, 2018 at 4:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis remains atop a national list of metropolitan areas where pedestrians are in danger...but it’s an issue Memphis City Council is looking into.

Members of the city council’s public safety and homeland security committee heard a presentation Tuesday on pedestrian safety.

It comes less than a week after WMC Action News 5 aired an investigation about dangers that pedestrians face in Memphis.

Smart Growth America ranked Memphis the ninth most dangerous metro area in the country for walking.

WMC Action News 5 investigators combed through nearly three years' worth of data from Memphis police and found some grim statistics.

In 2016, 552 pedestrians were hurt and 25 killed on Memphis roadways.

In 2017, 450 pedestrians were hurt and 28 killed.

As of late August 2018, 319 people were hurt and 15 killed.

Safety experts said there aren't enough crosswalks, and when there are crosswalks, they're located too far away, so people would rather take a chance at jaywalking--which can be dangerous.

Three years ago, the city identified 20 pilot projects to make the streets safer for pedestrians, but so far there's only enough funding for half of the projects.

Memphis police presented updated records Tuesday to council members that showed 32 fatal crashes in 2016, 38 in 2017, and 24 so far in 2018.

They also noted that Shelby County has the most incidents statewide.

“Pedestrian fatalities are a great concern with this community,” said MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall.

The city has indicated it’s working to address a lack of crosswalk access in Memphis. Some council members say more crosswalks and jaywalking enforcement could cut down on the number of crashes.

“I hope MPD will come back with what will be those hot spot areas and identify some strategy,” said councilmember Martavious Jones.

“Signs do help, crosswalks do help,” Ryall said. “That is a dialogue we are having with city engineering and any other entity that would help us move the needle.”

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