Major Philadelphia Construction Projects Prompt Renewed Attention to Pedestrian Safety
There are many new construction projects underway in Philadelphia, and quite a few of them impact frequent pedestrian walkways. What are members of the Philadelphia City Council doing to help prevent pedestrian accidents and to ensure that pedestrian safety is a top concern around these construction areas? According to a recent article in NewsWorks.org, City Councilman Mark Squilla has co-sponsored a bill with Councilwoman Helen Gym, which is “designed to make it safer to walk near major construction sites.” According to Squilla, there is a salient need to protect pedestrians in areas of the city in which sidewalks have been closed due to construction.
What kinds of safety measures have been proposed through the bill? Squilla has recommended “canopying the area so pedestrians can walk underneath it,” and in cases in which sidewalks or streets have to be closed due to construction, Squilla clarified that the city can “inform the public ahead of time therefore making it safe for them to cross.”
The bill is entitled “Construction, Encroachments and Projection Over, On and Under Streets,” and it aims to amend Chapter 11-600 of The Philadelphia Code. The language of the bill clarifies that a construction project cannot result in the closure of a sidewalk, or even the partial closure of a sidewalk, unless there is a covered walkway available to pedestrians. In the event that a covered walkway is impracticable, the bill requires a determination of “whether a protected walkway can be established that will adequately protect public safety and not unduly impact traffic safety.”
What is a “protected walkway” according to the bill? The proposed legislation defines it as “a portion of a sidewalk, roadway, or street open to pedestrian traffic that is bordered by barriers adequate to protect the safety of pedestrians.”
Safety Tips for Pedestrian Safety in Construction Zones
- Always walk on a sidewalk or pedestrian path when possible, but if you must walk on the road, you should always walk on the shoulder in the direction facing traffic;
- Do not drink alcohol before walking (more than one-third of all pedestrian fatalities involve a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration beyond the legal driving limit);
- Monitor children closely when you are walking, and model safe pedestrian behavior for them;
- Carry a flashlight and wear retro-reflective clothes if you are walking at night to improve your visibility to drivers; and
- Always cross the street at a crosswalk or an intersection if possible;
If you sustained injuries while walking near a construction zone, you may be entitled to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney to determine your rights.