If you frequently walk or ride a bicycle on the streets of Houston, you literally may be taking your life in your hands when you venture out.
Since 2002, Houston motorists have mortally wounded almost 2,000 individuals on foot or two wheels. That's over 100 deaths per year — and the number has increased recently to over 150 annual fatalities. That doesn't even count the average of 350 serious injuries.
Those grim statistics make the Houston metro area one of the deadliest major metropolitan regions in America for pedestrians and cyclists. The Houston Chronicle reviewed federal data that indicated the nine-county region comes in at fourth place per-capita for cyclists killed in crashes and fifth for those on foot. This is such even though this area has just a small percentage of the population who get around town in that manner.
There are various reasons for Houston's high ranking, including the following:
- Long distances between safe crossings, making people scramble to cross the interstates
- Inadequate space for cyclists and pedestrians
- Impassable sidewalks that make those in wheelchairs use the street
- Poor lighting along the roads
One Houston urban planner and engineer stated bluntly, "There are a lot of people who are willing to have a few people die to save two minutes on their commute."
Then, too, drivers who mow down those riding bikes or walking face fewer harsh penalties here in Houston when victims die than they would in many other jurisdictions. Often, drivers are found guilty of lesser charges, even if they were charged with hit-and-run, court records indicate.
It should be noted that regardless of the outcome of any criminal proceedings, those struck by Houston drivers have the right to seek civil justice by filing personal injury lawsuits against these errant drivers.