To Protect Pedestrians, Install More Bollards

Roadway designs protect drivers and construction workers with robust barriers. Why don't we protect pedestrians in the same way?

August 4, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Sanchai Khudpin / Shutterstock

Assessing the different types of barriers installed on American roadways, Charles Marohn argues that we need beefed-up protection for pedestrians, much like we provide for drivers or construction workers. At roadway construction sites, Marohn writes, "[t]he concrete barriers do not have a breakaway design. There are no shear pins to absorb the kinetic energy of an errant vehicle. A driver who loses control in a construction zone is going to feel the brutal consequences of that mistake. The construction worker will not."

Marohn asks, "[w]hy are we concerned with the construction worker and not the kid walking the sidewalk? Why are we concerned with the oncoming traffic and not the person waiting at the traffic signal?" Historically, roadway designs have ensured protection for drivers while ignoring people on the sidewalk who might get struck by out-of-control cars.

"America needs a billion bollards. There is no coherent argument against lining every street in America with them. This is the minimum level of protection needed to keep people safe from violence. It is the least we can do to correct the massive asymmetry of risk experienced on our nation’s streets by people outside of a vehicle."

To improve transportation, Marohn asserts, "skip the megaprojects." Not doing more to protect pedestrians amounts to "institutionalized gross negligence."

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