At least there was enough intelligence from the bench to allow a retrial in this case: a mother convicted of vehicular homicide because someone else ran down and killed her 4 year old with their car.
People looking at this case will say "but, Pat, she was jaywalking with her 4 year old." I guess that's the conclusion you'd reach if you only read the AJC, the Wall Street Journal, or watched CNN. There's more to this story, and yes, city planning is just as culpable if not moreso.
This is what people are talking about when they say roads are not safe for pedestrians.
She was jaywalking. Correct. And, Lord knows, I ain't no fan of jaywalking moms with kids on busy roads. But I "jaywalked" every time I went to a friend's house growing up on St. Simons Island, because their house was on the other side of the road from the bike path. I grew up in a small town, but people still got hit crossing Frederica Road, to be sure. Two lanes are easier to cross than 5, after all, but when resurfacing came through Island City, they installed a half dozen new pedestrian crossings. Why would they do that? Why would a place like Glynn County consider pedestrian crossings important enough to spend money on them?
The answer is simple: St. Simons prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle safety as part of its design as a tourist destination. Cobb County prioritizes cars to move people quickly from one exurb to the next. Such decisions have real world, sometimes life-and-death consequences.
She was jaywalking because she was traveling by foot in a car dominated area.
That's because her bus stop lets her out on the other side of Austell Road from her apartment complex, where the closest crosswalk is 3/10ths of a mile away. That's more than half a mile round trip, on foot, with three kids carrying full shopping bags, at night, after already waiting an hour for the bus. Not everybody owns a car. Not everybody can park that car in a garage or a driveway and watch the kids pile out into the house.
Half a mile in the dark with kids next to a busy highway or cross five lanes (75 feet?) of highway? What's your choice, tired mother of three? There aren't any good ones available.
And that's before you add in the driver, allegedly inebriated because in a car-centric world, the bars are located in "commercially zoned" areas and linked to "residential areas" by roads with no pedestrian or bicycle infrastructure.