More pedestrians are dying on Virginia’s roads, data shows

10 On Your Side

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) —Within the last year, the number of pedestrians hit and killed on the roads in Virginia was at an all time high. That’s according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Data shows 123 pedestrians were killed by cars in the commonwealth in 2018, that’s the highest death toll in 10 years.

In 2019, preliminary data shows roads are still deadly, with 124 pedestrians killed.

“Our lowest year was in 2015,” said John Saunders, Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO).

He believes there are a number of reasons for the increase, but one more than the rest.

“We sure look at the number of people that die not crossing at intersections, they’re crossing mid-block. So, we’re concerned about that. That’s probably the number one issue we see,” said Saunders.

10 On Your Side reached out to city officials on the Southside who said they are working to combat this problem.

VIRGINIA BEACH

In 2018, VDOT released a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

It lists multiple locations across the state where officials suggest improvements should be made. one of the places on their high priority list is a hot spot for Hampton Roads locals and tourists in the summer.

“Pacific Avenue has always been an area of concern for pedestrians crossing for a long time,” said Emily Archer, an urban designer with the City of Virginia Beach.

“In other parts of Pacific Avenue, there’s just this little median and four lanes with very busy traffic at all times of the year, so it’s helpful to have a place to wait,” she said. “So, you can stand in the median and only have to cross two sides.”

Archer said the city recently put up better signs on 33rd and Pacific so drivers know people are crossing. She added that better lighting is in place for the future. She also said the city plans to extend this work to 39th and Pacific Ave.

Before and after picture of 36th and Pacific Avenue at the Oceanfront. Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach.

Archer said the city plan is to have this work completed by the summer.

That’s not the only place the city has their eye on.

“On Virginia Beach Blvd., there’s a lot of areas West of the city where there’s not a lot of pedestrian crossings, so we’re getting those added where we can,” she said.

NORFOLK

The City of Norfolk introduced its “Vision Zero” initiative at the end of last year, days after 62-year-old Renee Pullie was hit and killed on St. Paul’s Blvd.

The city changed its crosswalk timing at three intersections.

To read more about Norfolk’s Vision Zero initiative, click here.

CHESAPEAKE

10 On Your Side reached out to the Public Works Department for the City of Chesapeake who said they have a few projects in the works and completed.

“Probably the most recently completed major project was a joint project between the City of Chesapeake and the City of Suffolk with Portsmouth Blvd. and Nansemond Parkway that includes a multi-use trail as well as sidewalks,” said Earl Sorey, Assistant Director of Chesapeake’s Department of Public Works. 

Below is a list of other projects that are in the works or completed.

  • Western Branch Trail (“Rails to Trails” project) – Officials said this is a VDOT-funded project. Phase 1 of the proposed 10-foot multi-use path is from the Portsmouth-Chesapeake City line to the terminal east of I-664. They tell 10 on Your Side the path is located on the abandoned railway. Officials said the design is complete and the project is in the procurement phase.  
  • Poindexter St. sidewalk extension – City officials said the project will add a 5-foot sidewalk from Bainbridge Blvd. to Elizabeth River Park at the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge along the south side of the I-464 overpass at Poindexter St. They said the feasibility study is complete and the project is pending. It’s awaiting a consultant proposal for plan preparation and coordination with VDOT.
  • Etheridge Manor Blvd. sidewalks project – Officials said this project included the installation of new concrete sidewalks and handicap-accessible ramps within the existing right-of-way on the south side of Hanbury Rd. from Hanbury Shopping Center to Hillwell Rd. They said it will also be on both sides of Etheridge Manor Blvd. from Cooper’s Ditch bridge to River Gates Rd. The project will include pedestrian crossing improvements involving new pedestrian displays and push buttons at the two signalized intersections of Benson Rd. and Hillwell Rd. The city said the project is 30% complete.

If you have any concerns on the roads, contact 10 On Your Side’s Traffic Anchor Madison Glassman.


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