A man in a motorized wheelchair was killed by a motorist while crossing Manslick Road at March Boulevard and Manslick Court. The fatal collision happened just before 2:00p.m. on Monday, February 29, 2016.
Melvin Kamber, 81, was struck by an unidentified motorist driving a pickup truck. A witness visiting her father inside an apartment building approximately 400 feet from the collision told WLKY that she could hear the collision take place. “Out of the blue we just heard a big bang,” Samantha Compton said.
WLKY, which called the collision an accident, reported that Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) “investigators are saying the man didn’t have the right of way.” WHAS11 and WAVE3 also termed the fatal crash as an accident. (WDRB initially called this an accident but removed it from an updated report.)
But this fatal collision was no accident. The cards are stacked against any person not behind the wheel of an automobile trying to navigate this area.
This stretch of Manslick Road carries a 35 mile per hour speed limit, which statistically means a person struck by a motorist has around a 40 percent chance of surviving. LMPD said speed was not an issue in the fatality, even though quite clearly it was. Had the motorist been traveling at a slower speed, or the street designed to promote slower speeds, Mr. Kamber might still be alive.
Compounding this issue, there are no sidewalks in the area of the collision, yet there are four—yes four—separate roadways a person must cross to get to the Manslick Foodmart (where Mr. Kamber was headed) or Kings Kids Childcare. That includes the five-lane speedway of Manslick Road, another one- to two-lane access road on the west side of the street, followed by a parking lot driving lane.
Low-visibility crosswalks exist here, mostly worn away from lack of maintenance. There’s likely little time for a person to cross the street safely once the pedestrian light is illuminated via a beg button. Another witness told WLKY that the walk light could be longer.
“We can’t even get across it and you get halfway across, then it tells you to stop,” the victim’s neighbor, Scott Compton, told WDRB. “Then, you’re stuck out in the middle of the road, and you’re gonna get hit. We need to probably double the time, especially with the people in chairs.”
That’s not to mention that nothing in the area is remotely ADA accessible, meaning the deceased man in a wheelchair would have been forced to enter the roadway while trying to cross the street.
So-called “desire lines” where people walking have worn a path in the dirt are visible from the apartment complex, across a ditch, to a TARC bus stop.
Witnesses told WLKY that Kamber man lived across the street in a senior apartment complex. What’s it say about quality of life in this city when a handicapped man living in a fairly dense Louisville neighborhood can’t even cross the street to visit a convenience store without risking death?
The area is home to not only the American Village Senior Homes, but also a dense array of multi-family and single-family dwellings on both sides of the street. Just down March Boulevard sits Jacob Elementary School, which doesn’t even include a sidewalk to its front door.
If there were ever a case where traffic engineers should share in the blame for people being killed by their designs, this is it. Manslick Road here is a death trap—and its design is keeping it that way. It’s time Louisville demands better street design that is safe for all road users. Manslick Road is deadly by design.