Donna Thompkins is crossing the street at Folsom Boulevard and 65th Street in East Sacramento to get to a coffee shop. Thompkins says she had a few close calls with motorists in the past.
“A couple of times…yeah, I was walking and a car didn’t see me and kind of darted out. But they didn’t roll the window down or say ‘sorry’ or nothing, they just kept on going.”
Thompkins says she thinks more could be done to keep pedestrians safe from cars.
“…wider sidewalks or smaller streets so they can stay in their own lane.”
The organization Transportation for America agrees. The group has come out with a ranking of major metropolitan areas according to a pedestrian danger index.
“The index indicates how likely you are to be mowed down if you go out for a stroll.”
Spokesman David Goldberg says the Sacramento – Arden-Arcade – Roseville area is the 22nd most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in the country….and 8th statewide. Between 2007 and 2008, there were 69 pedestrian fatalities. Goldberg says it’s a nationwide problem…people are discouraged from walking because of the way streets are designed.
“People are avoiding this physical activity, this exercise because it’s downright scary.”
Veronica Delgado is one of those people. The Sacramento State student is walking across Folsom Boulevard toward the campus. Delgado says she refuses to walk along streets that don’t have sidewalks.
“I walk every single day from the light rail and I’m always walking on the sidewalks. But when there’s not you definitely feel the gravel hit up on you. The safety is definitely jeopardized.”
But local transportation officials say they are working to make streets more pedestrian friendly.
“We’ve come a long with getting funding for doing a lot of these improvements.”
Dave Franke is with the Sacramento County Department of Transportation. He says they’re prioritizing which streets to upgrade with pedestrian and bike improvements and going after millions of dollars in grants to pay for it. Franke says right now they’re working a lot in Arden-Arcade.
“…and the reason for Arden-Arcade is because it’s a fairly dense neighborhood and it has a lot of missing gaps as far as sidewalks go. So we’re concentrating on for example Watt Avenue, Marconi Avenue and El Camino in a lot of our grants.”
And Transportation for America’s David Goldberg agrees…Sacramento is making progress.
“The road design priorities have begun to shift. It’s going to take a while for it to really take hold after many years of building in a way that ignored the needs of people on foot or on bicycle. But I think Sacramento is a place that has begun to turn a corner.”
Meanwhile, pedestrian Veronica Delgado says she’s waiting for those improvements to happen…and where there aren’t sidewalks…she’s not walking.
“I’ll find a different way or I’ll get a ride. I really don’t like areas without sidewalks.”