Police departments within Cobb County send out an alert when a pedestrian or bicyclist has been struck by a vehicle.
Thomas Lehner, a Cobb police officer who works traffic enforcement, said Cobb police tracked 84 pedestrian-related collisions in 2013. There were 89 in 2012 and 97 in 2011.
Out of the 84 pedestrians hit by vehicles this year, 36 resulted in an injury and seven died. There were seven deaths in 2012 and five in 2011.
“Many of the contributing factors are pedestrian violations,” Lehner said of people not using crosswalks or being under the influence of alcohol.
This includes people dashing across multiple lanes to use the Cobb Community Transit system — placing themselves in perilous situations — and residents trying to be active in their community.
Some areas of the county are more dangerous than others. This year, Acworth had six pedestrian accidents, compared to five last year and four in 2009. None have resulted in any arrests this year. There was one injury and no deaths.
“The numbers aren’t big and we are glad,” said Capt. Mark Cheatham with the Acworth Police Department.
Major Matt Boyd of the Powder Springs Police Department said he was glad to report no pedestrian-related accidents this year.
The corridors with the highest concentration of pedestrian collisions, according to Lehner, are areas near Windy Hill Road, Austell Road, Cobb Parkway and South Cobb Drive.
“Currently, Georgia State Patrol has increased their patrol within Cobb County, specifically all the interstates that travel through (I-75, I-575, I-285, and I-20),” Lehner said.
But the safety concern spreads throughout the entire county.
On the afternoon of Nov. 6, Elizabeth Walton, 59, of Atlanta, was struck by a car as she crossed a private driveway at 3020 Paces Mill Road in the Vinings area, west of the Chattahoochee River, according to police.
Based on witness information, the police report said James Taylor, 58, of Atlanta, was driving a black 2013 Mercedes GL550 and was attempting to turn right out of his home to go eastbound onto Paces Mill Road.
“After striking the pedestrian, the automobile traveled over her,” the report said. Taylor was not charged.
Vehicular homicide charges
The accidents have been reported any time, day or night.
On a rainy Thursday afternoon at 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 5, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Franklin and Delk roads, resulting in a serious injury.
Jeannie Richards, 40, of Marietta, was crossing at the east side of the intersection in the rain when police say she was hit by a blue 2012 Ford Focus driven by Jessica Lamb, of Marietta, who was traveling west on Delk Road.
Richards was transported to Kennestone Hospital via Metro Ambulance. No charges were filed.
Sometimes the pedestrian is as fault, other times it’s driver error.
On Oct. 29, Therman Kilcrease, of Austell, was driving a gold Chevrolet Monte Carlo while traveling on Riverside Parkway at 86 mph, where the maximum speed limit is 45 mph, according to the warrant.
Kilcrease collided with Antonia Walker, who was riding his bike, the warrant stated. Walker sustained a spinal injury.
The warrant said that “a clear plastic baggie of suspected powder cocaine was found among (Kilcrease’s) personal effects at the scene of the collision” and Kilcrease had been drinking before he got behind the wheel.
The accident resulted in the death of front-seat passenger Ollie Jones, police say.
Kilcrease was charged with speeding, failure to maintain lane, reckless driving and three felony counts for reportedly causing serious injury by vehicle, homicide in the first degree and possession of cocaine.
On two wheels
Pedestrian-related collision accident reports do not “reflect bicycle related collisions, as all bicycles are defined as a vehicle,” Lehner said.
Still, there have been deaths related to these types of collisions.
At 8 p.m. on Nov. 4, Marietta police investigated a fatal crash on Powder Springs Road near Chestnut Hill Road.
Danny Nation, 49, was riding his bicycle in the northbound lanes of Powder Springs Road when he attempted to cross the street, according to police reports. Nation was struck by two vehicles, a 1994 Cadillac and 1998 Mitsubishi 3000.
“Both vehicles stopped immediately. The drivers of the vehicles called 911 and attempted to render aid to Nation,” according to the police report.
Nation suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The area where Nation was crossing was dark and he did not have any reflective clothing on. The bike had a headlight, but no signs of a rear reflector or light,” according to the report.
Neither driver faced charges.
A row of rental bikes and stacks of helmets sit outside the Silver Comet Depot, located off Floyd Road in Mableton, right next to the 12.8 mile Silver Comet Trail.
Debbie Rushton, of Mableton, 59, said she bikes three or four times a week on the Silver Comet Trail. Her typical ride is 40 to 60 miles, which takes three hours per trip.
“It is just nice to be out here,” Rushton said Friday at noon, after days of rain in Cobb.
Biking mostly for recreation, Rushton said she feels the pathway is safe and isolated from vehicle traffic.
One tip Rushton gives fellow cyclists is not to wear headphones or ear buds, which make it difficult to hear what might be happening around the cyclist.
Eric Mortensson, who has been a manager for Silver Comet Depot for four years, said cycling is gaining momentum in Georgia because it is healthy, good for the environment and is often faster than using a car to travel down the congested roads.
“Over the past year, I have seen a noticeable difference for commuting,” Mortensson said.
Felip Cilenti, a technician for the bike shop, said he has tried to avoid using a car for four years and has seen an increase in fellow cyclists on the road.
Mortensson said he tells new customers to have reflective lights and a mirror. Cyclists older than 16 do not have to wear a helmet, but, Cilenti said, “That needs to change.”
Cilenti said to stay off Austell Road and Dallas Highway, including the portion that becomes Whitlock Avenue, which he hopes will have bike lanes added soon. Mortensson said cyclists should choose a road with large shoulders.
Mortensson said the same traffic laws apply to a bicycle just like a car.
“Be a courteous cyclist, just like you should be a courteous driver,” he said.