Some Notes on the McKinney Avenue Pedestrian Death

This is awful on every level.  If you read this blog chances are you have seen the news about a pedestrian being killed on McKinney Avenue last night.  I don’t know the victim nor the drunk driver.  My heart sunk when I got the news.  I felt horrible because this is a stretch of road I’ve been hoping/trying to calm for some time now.  Unfortunately, change (particularly to the horribly arcane and antiquated Thoroughfare Plan process) takes time.  And now many lives are changed for the worse.

McKinney Avenue in this area is a race way.  I began using a radar gun to clock vehicles in the area.  They routinely tip over 40 mph with the majority around 35 mph (and I routinely do these in the morning or day-time when drivers aren’t drunk).  Average traffic speed is a bit slower below Blackburn, but there is always the inevitable jackass that feels the need to gun his camaro out of frustration being behind the streetcar or people turning left in congested areas, or just to show off his killer ride.

McKinney is a tale of two streets north and south of Blackburn.  Neither should allow speeding.  And no I don’t mean by speed limits nor enforcement.  Cars will always drive as fast as they feel comfortable.  That’s why that 35 mph speed is so important.  Cole, the one-way couplet with McKinney is the same.

Chance of pedestrian death by vehicular travel speed

South of Blackburn, McKinney Avenue is about density and commerce.  Pedestrians occur.  They populate businesses and make the land more valuable.  You’d think we would want more of them.  But look at the street section.  Sidewalks might be three feet on either side with 40 feet curb to curb of vehicular travel lanes.  Because there are so many pedestrians, it becomes dangerous to have so many cars there.  Often moving too fast.

North of Blackburn, where this particular collision occurred, is more residential.  It’s tree-lined with townhomes often on both sides as well as several schools and churches dotting the streetscape.  In no way should this ever be a three lane, one-way road with very few stops or signals.  It might as well be a drag race.

Let’s also not forget that this isn’t an isolated incident.  While there have been other pedestrians killed around town, no area is as unsafe as southern Dallas.  US congressional district 30, which is almost entirely the southern sector is the second most dangerous in the country for traffic fatalities.  South Dallas is littered with over-scaled roads, often with many who can’t afford to get around other than by foot, bike, and/or transit.

Just look at the pedestrian deaths from 2008-2012:

Pedestrian Deaths in Dallas between 2008-12
Pedestrian Deaths in Dallas between 2008-12

Just look at MLK.  FIVE pedestrians killed in five years.  ONE PER YEAR.  Why do we put up with this?  Why do we throw billions around for moving cars faster when many small scale interventions redesigning streets in neighborhoods and commercial centers is proven to be safer AND encourage investment.

Our modus operandi for designing streets is to prioritize traffic flow.  Another words for traffic flow is speed.  We design for speed and then we regulate it.  This contradiction is why our roads are inhumane.

Due to our inability to design streets for safety, commerce, and productive land use, all sacrificed in the name of traffic flow and speed, we have to put another nameless dot on the map.


  • L Byrd

    well said

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Agree 100%. The Wycliff/Douglas couplet through Oak Lawn is also incredibly dangerous. Who in the world came up with idea of running high speed one-way streets on a curve through the middle of a residential neighborhood?

    These are very bad policy decisions that injure and kill people.

  • HBW

    Completely agree. A pedestrian died in Austin on N. Lamar just last night. He was walking across a stroad made for speeding cars, not human beings. Austin just set up a Vision Zero task force, maybe Dallas could follow suit. I ask myself the same question every day: “Why do we put up with this?”