Potentially Dangerous Houston Intersections Undergo Safety Audits

by Terry Bryant

No one needs to tell us that our roads, freeways, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks are congested. Accidents between motor vehicles, some involving bicyclists and pedestrians who are hit by cars and trucks, are happening at alarming rates.

It’s becoming painfully clear that part of the reason is strategic. Our transportation infrastructure, fast growing and quickly changing, is in some ways less capable of handling all of our burgeoning methods of travel. Add to the mix buses, the Metro rail, and the different conditions of weather and drivers in general, and it’s a wonder that getting around Houston isn’t even more dangerous than it already is.

According to a recent series in the Houston Chronicle, upwards of 650 people die each year on Houston-area roads, bike lanes, and crosswalks. Another 2,800-plus are seriously injured. The nine-county Houston area metro comes in with the second highest number of fatal vehicle accidents per capita in the entire country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Renewed efforts to create greater public awareness notwithstanding, bicyclists and pedestrians find our streets to be just as unfriendly. On any given day, an average of seven cyclists or pedestrians are hit by a motor vehicle here in Greater Houston.

Since its inception, LINK Houston, an advocate for an equitable local transportation network which blends bus, train, cyclist, pedestrians, and motor vehicles, has been conducting audits of the city’s major intersections along with its partners, Houston Public Works staff, HPD, METRO, and BikeHouston. Their shared objective is to paint a clear picture of traffic hazards. One thing they’re learning is that the reasons why one intersection is so dangerous don’t always mirror the causes at another.

The enterprise reviews traffic volumes and historical crash data, and personally observe dangerous intersections to assess conditions firsthand, in hopes of developing meaningful safety recommendations. Many of these dangerous crossroads have already been audited.

The intersections which are currently undergoing safety audits include:

  • Bellaire and Ranchester
  • Bellaire and Gessner
  • Fondren and W. Bellfort
  • Bissonnet and Wilcrest
  • Taylor near Spring
  • Washington and Patterson
  • Nicholson at 11th
  • Spur 527 & Hawthorne
  • Shepherd and Allen Parkway
  • Fannin at Pierce
  • Longpoint and Gessner
  • West and Airline

In a separate investigation not long ago, The Houston Press revealed the five most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in the city:

  • Main and Pierce
  • Wheeler and Main
  • Gessner and Westview
  • South Voss and Westheimer
  • West Bellfort and Fondren

Some of the intersections on both lists have many (or all) modern and recently updated safety features, such as visible crosswalks, good lines of sight, and no blind spots created by structures which are too near the intersection (like traffic signal boxes). But too many mishaps still occur.

One such intersection – Bellaire and Gessner – has a particular characteristic outlined by an official with LInkHouston. “The corner (turning) radius [in one area of the intersection] is kind of large and cars can turn at a little higher speed than [normally].” If that corner had a smaller turning radius, vehicles would slow down a bit and “have more time to react to someone in the crosswalk that maybe they (wouldn’t) see at first,” the official continued. Challenges to traffic flow – and, by definition, an intersection’s overall safety – require diligence and patience. But in the interim, people drive the way they will drive. And the only way for a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian to NOT become an accident statistic is to walk, bike, drive with your head on a swivel, and anticipate that others are not always looking out for you.

If you’ve been hit by a vehicle while driving, cycling, or walking, you deserve to be compensated by the negligent driver. Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help you fight for your legal right to be fully and fairly compensated. Call or contact us through this website to arrange a free case evaluation.