A Jonesboro street with no sidewalks

by Robin Kemp

If you want Clayton County to put in a sidewalk near you, here’s your chance to make your voice heard.

The Clayton County Smart Pedestrian Plan for Residents will hold a Zoom meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 14. You can take part by signing up online at
https://us02web.zoom.us/…/reg…/WN_dz7-c6cRTe26AAQJaqAcmA.

“Mobility equity” is the guiding force behind the project. That means the county is trying to make more areas of the county accessible to people who use wheelchairs or who have other mobility issues.

The other top priority is to build new connections between different areas that have no real point A-to-B pedestrian connection.

High school students will be able to earn money by collecting data in the field. They’ll do this by taking inventory of roadsides, sidewalks, and main pedestrian corridors. The information will help county officials decide which areas should get priority for upgrades. The funding will come from a grant, not from taxpayer money.

Much of Clayton County was rural well into the 20th century. The present car-dependent suburban landscape developed after World War Two, during the postwar real estate boom and the heyday of the automobile. Now, with more than 300,000 people, an aging population, and heavy traffic, many residents are calling for options like waling and bicycle trails.

Making it easier for people to walk in Clayton County is a public health issue, as well. According to the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Plan 2020 report, “Clayton County currently has a 37% adult obesity rate and 34% physical inactivity rate, which are both above the state average of 32% and 28% respectively. This makes walkability a key approach in providing equitable opportunities for physical activity.”

Pedestrian deaths are also a problem in Clayton County. People are periodically struck and killed along Tara Boulevard and other major thoroughfares. On Christmas Day, a woman died after a vehicle hit her near Kingswood Circle and Riverdale Road. In recent weeks, mothers of children who were killed walking to school or who have had speeding cars run off the road into their yards have been showing up at Board of Commissioner meetings to make their concerns known, as well.

Stephanie Anderson’s daughter was killed on Fielder Road in December 2019. At the January 5 meeting, she told commissioners the county needs to install traffic signal sensors. Anderson, who has been working with a traffic engineer and Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford on the issue, said the sensor could be set to run on a timer as well as according to how heavy traffic is at different times of day. Anderson also said she wants to see the county put in more rumble strips, roundabouts, and flashing lights and signs on curves.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers these 10 tips for pedestrian safety:

10 Walking Safety Tips

  1. Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  3. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  4. Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  5. Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  6. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
  7. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
  8. Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  9. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  10. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.

Georgia Tech, the cities of Morrow and Lake City, the Lake Spivey Rotary Club, and Clayton County are partners in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.

Read the detailed plan online at https://smartcities.ipat.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/Clayton_Cnty_GA-Smart_Proposal_2020.pdf

Find out how walkable your neighborhood is with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s printable checklist: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/walkingchecklist.pdf

To see county maps (big files), visit https://www.claytoncountyga.gov/government/community-development/geographic-information-system