AT THE END OF OCTOBER, Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police issued a warning to drivers: Watch out for pedestrians. With two months still left in the year, 24 people had been hit and killed by cars—compared to 17 at that point in 2016.
The overwhelming majority of this year’s pedestrian fatalities occurred at night, police say, and often the victim was wearing dark clothing and crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk. A CMPD sergeant compared that behavior to “playing Frogger,” as he warned both drivers and walkers to watch for each other.
There’s another trend, though, that becomes apparent when you plot the incidents on a map of Mecklenburg County: They create a pattern that roughly mimics the distribution of wealth here. Fatal car versus pedestrian wrecks rarely happen in the wedge of wealth in south Charlotte. Just as the city’s less affluent residents live in a band that arcs from west to east, across the northern parts of the city and county, most of this year’s pedestrian fatalities form a crescent of similar geography. Multiple people have died on Freedom Drive, and if you were to stand alongside the road, it wouldn’t take long to spot people dashing across the lanes of traffic instead of walking half a mile to the nearest crosswalk.
Charlotte routinely scores low on walkability reports—the city gets a 26 out of 100 by the online resou