Why Pedestrian-Friendly Street Design is Not Negligent

44 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008

See all articles by Michael Lewyn

Michael Lewyn

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center


In recent decades, American state and local highway officials have built wide streets and roads designed primarily to accommodate high-speed automobile traffic. However, such high-speed streets are more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists than streets with slower traffic, and thus fail to adequately accommodate nondrivers. Government officials design streets for high-speed traffic partially because of their fear of tort liability. An influential street engineering manual, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Green Book, has generally favored the construction of such high-speed streets, and transportation planners fear that if they fail to follow the Green Book's recommendations, they are more likely to be held negligent if a speeding driver is injured on a street designed for relatively slow traffic. This article argues that such fears are no longer well-founded, for two reasons. First, American tort law gives transportation planners ample discretion to consider the interests of nondrivers. Second, the Green Book itself has become more sensitive to those interests in recent years.

Keywords: pedestrian, street, immunity, aashto, green book, sprawl

JEL Classification: R14, R41, R52

Suggested Citation

Lewyn, Michael, Why Pedestrian-Friendly Street Design is Not Negligent. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112488 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1112488

Michael Lewyn (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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